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Number of drug deaths decreases in Brighton and Hove
The number of drug-related deaths in Brighton and Hove has dropped for the third year running.
The latest figures show 16 people died from drug abuse in the city in 2012 – down from 17 in 2011, 35 in 2010 and 48 in 2009.
The research, compiled from postmortem test results for the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths, revealed there were 6.94 deaths per 100,000 people in Brighton and Hove in 2012.
The figures are a stark contrast to 2009 data which revealed 22.56 deaths per 100,000 people – earning the city the tag of ‘drug death capital of the UK’.
Council chiefs and drug experts described the news as a “triumph” for the city – but warned more work was needed to continue the downward trend.
Despite the news, Brighton and Hove ranked fourth for the highest number of drug-related deaths in the UK behind Liverpool, Blackburn and Sunderland.
Andy Winter, from Brighton Housing Trust, said the use of life-saving Naloxone jabs contributed to the decrease in deaths.
The free injections are given to hundreds of homeless people living in hostels across the city and are used to “pull back”
heroin users from the brink of death following overdoses.
He said: “It is three things. One is general decline in the use of drugs like heroin. Secondly there is much better ongoing coordination between different agencies, and third the much wider availably of Naloxone. There is no doubt Naloxone is saving lives.”
In 2012 Naloxone jabs saved the lives of 18 people following overdoses. Between October 2011 and September 2012 nearly 350 take-home Naloxone jabs were prescribed to addicts across the city.
The 16 drug deaths in Brighton and Hove in 2012 included four females and 12 males. Heroin and morphine, hypnotics and sedatives and methadone accounted for five deaths each, while cocaine accounted for one.
Two of the deaths were people aged over 65. Figures have also fallen across Sussex, from 41 deaths in 2010 to 21 in 2012.
Tom Scanlon, Brighton and Hove City Council director of public health, said: “Hard work both in the planning stages and on the frontline by professionals has helped deliver this fall in the rate of drugs deaths.
“This is a real triumph and everyone involved should take pride in what we have achieved.
“But there is more hard graft to be done to continue this downward trend. We have a relatively high number of drug users in the city, which is why we also have high numbers of drug-related deaths. Each of these deaths represents a personal tragedy so that’s why staff in the clinical commissioning group, city council, Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust and the voluntary sector have been working hard to deliver a number of initiatives that are helping to tackle this problem.”
Sussex Police said Brighton and Hove has lost its ‘drugs capital’ title largely due to the Op Reduction project, aimed at disrupting the organised crime groups responsible for supplying heroin and crack to the city.
In September the force seized £50,000 worth of heroin and crack bound for Brighton. A month later seven members of an organised crime group, supplying heroin and crack from Woolwich, were convicted of conspiracy to supply and were jailed for a total of 19 years.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “It is our targeted approach to tackle both the supply and demand for heroin and crack that makes Op Reduction so unique and successful.”
Nationally the overall number of drugrelated deaths plummeted from more than 2,000 to 1,613 over the same period.
But the number of UK deaths linked to “legal highs” soared from 10 in 2009 to 68 in 2012.