BRIGHTON and Hove has shaken off its grim reputation as the drug deaths capital.

Latest figures released yesterday show there were fewer deaths as a result of drugs than any year going back as far as 2001.

From 2014 to 2016 there were 56 deaths linked to drugs in Brighton and Hove – that relates to 6.5 per 100,000 people in the population.

At its height, the city had a drug death rate of more than 12 per cent.

From 2004 the city earned the macabre crown of drugs death capital which it held six times in eight years, only falling to second place in 2006 and 2007.

However for the first time in more than a decade, Brighton and Hove does not even feature in the top ten worst-affected cities, however no one could quite pinpoint the exact cause of the improvement

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We are pleased to see the fall in drug-related deaths in the city.

“However, we are keenly aware that there is no room for complacency.

“There is a great deal of work being done by substance misuse services and other partners to support people into treatment, including assertive outreach with rough sleeping clients and joint working with homeless hostels.

“More people are successfully completing treatment for substance misuse and fewer are re-presenting to us.”

Despite the good news the city has suffered drug deaths this year.

Kayleigh Jukes, 24, was one of four drugs-related fatalities to be discovered in Brighton within 24 hours when she was found on March 15 at a flat in Shanklin Court, Shanklin Road, Brighton.

And across the country drug poisoning deaths surged to a new record level, driven in part by a jump in fatalities involving cocaine.

There were 3,744 deaths involving legal and illegal drugs registered in England and Wales last year.

This was the highest number since comparable records started in 1993.

Of those, a total of 2,593 (69 per cent) were classed as drug misuse deaths.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show there were 371 deaths involving cocaine - a rise of 16% on the figure recorded in 2015.

Statisticians identified a rise in the purity of cocaine as one possible explanation for the increase, which has been logged despite estimates of usage remaining broadly steady.

The figures prompted criticism of the Government’s drugs policy.

Martin Powell, of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, described the Home Office’s approach as “scandalous”.

He said: “The Government must accept responsibility for record numbers of people dying from overdoses year after year.

“Other countries value the lives of vulnerable people who use drugs enough to implement and fund many measures proven to save lives, like decriminalising drug users, safer drug consumption rooms and prescribing heroin.”

Rosanna O’Connor, of Public Health England, said: “It is tragic that we are still seeing an increase in people dying from drug misuse, particularly among older heroin users.

“Many of these deaths can be explained as the ‘Trainspotting’ generation, often with poor physical and mental health, sadly losing their battle with long-term addiction to drugs.”

She said a large number of heroin deaths are among people not in treatment and called on services to increase their efforts to reach those most at risk.