Suspected Scottish drug death figures up again

There were 600 suspected drug deaths in Scotland in the first six months of this year, according to provisional figures from Police Scotland – a 7 per cent increase on the same period in 2022. 

Police Scotland
The data is based on reports from police officers attending scenes of death.

The data is based on reports from police officers attending scenes of death and is not subject to the same level of validation as the official statistics from National Records of Scotland, which are compiled from death certificates and pathologist reports. The most recent official set of annual figures – for 2022 – saw a 21 per cent fall compared to the previous year ( 

After following a downward trend, the rolling total number of suspected drug deaths has ‘increased slightly in recent quarters’, says the Scottish Government. Men accounted for 72 per cent of suspected drug deaths, with 67 per cent of all fatalities occurring among people aged between 35 and 54. The police divisions with highest number of suspected drug deaths were Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Edinburgh City.

Despite last year’s fall in the total number of deaths, Scotland continues to have the highest drug-related death rate in Europe. Scotland’s lord advocate recently potentially paved the way for the introduction of legal drug consumption rooms in the country by saying that she would be prepared to publish a prosecution policy stating that it would not be ‘in the public interest’ to prosecute people for possession offences related to a pilot consumption facility. 

The lord advocate’s statement ‘removes an obstacle’ to establishing the UK’s first official consumption room, says the Scottish Government. A proposal for a pilot consumption room scheme by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership is scheduled to be presented to the city’s integrated joint board of council and health officials at the end of this month, and if approved will then be put out to consultation. ‘Glasgow authorities may now progress their proposal to set up a facility which can operate within the existing legal framework,’ said drugs minister Elena Whitham. 

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