Suspected Scottish drug deaths up 7 per cent on same quarter last year

Drug deaths in Scotland
There were 320 suspected drug deaths in Scotland in Q1 of 2024

There were 320 suspected drug deaths in Scotland in the first three months of this year, according to provisional figures from Police Scotland. The number is 8 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 7 per cent up on the same quarter in 2023.

The quarterly figures are compiled from the reports of police officers attending scenes of death, and are ‘not subject to the same level of validation and quality assurance’ as the official annual statistics published by National Records of Scotland, which are based on information from death certificates.

Scotland drug fatalities by gender
Men accounted for 73 per cent of suspected drug fatalities

As in previous quarters, more than 60 per cent of deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54. The number of deaths among females was down by 12 per cent on the same period last year, with men accounting for 73 per cent of suspected drug fatalities. The police division with the highest number of suspected drug deaths was Greater Glasgow at 71, followed by Edinburgh City (32), North East and Renfrewshire & Inverclyde (both 30).

There were 1,219 suspected drug deaths in the 12 months to March 2024, 10 per cent up on the 12 months to March 2023. ‘Following a downward trend from early 2021 to late 2022, the rolling 12-month total of suspected drug deaths has risen over the last year,’ the Scottish Government states.

The last official set of figures – for 2022 – showed a decrease of more than 20 per cent on the previous year. While the total of 1,051 was the lowest for five years, it was still almost four times higher than in 2000. The official figures for 2023 are due to be published in the summer.

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