DRUG misuse is claiming the life of a resident almost every fortnight, grim new government statistics have revealed.

Brighton and Hove remains the South East capital for drug misuse deaths with 24 people dying last year alone.

Misuse means they involved illegal drugs, or were as a result of drug abuse or dependence.

The figure is down from 28 deaths in 2018, however city leaders say the figure remains “stubbornly high” when compared with the 19 fatalities recorded five years ago.

Despite this, 2019 marks the second year the total has fallen from a high of 37 in 2017.

The Office for National Statistics figures also show 30 “drug-related” deaths last year.

These deaths relate to poisoning from a variety of illegal and legal drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

The figures count deaths from drug abuse but also include those from accidents, suicides, and health complications arising from drug use.

In Brighton and Hove, there was a total of 102 deaths between 2017 and 2019, at a rate of 11.7 per 100,000 people – up from 11.3 in 2016-18.

Across England, the average death rate for 2017-19 was 7.1.

Drug reform charity Release said government inaction is partly to blame for the record number of deaths seen across England and Wales.

Across England and Wales, 4,393 deaths from drug poisoning were recorded in 2019 – two-thirds of these from misuse.

It represents the highest total since comparable records began in 1993, and the seventh successive year of increase.

The ONS said new analysis shows rates of drug poisoning deaths have been higher in the most deprived areas. Release said the public health crisis as a result of Covid-19 has exposed inequalities that have been seen in drug-related deaths for the last decade.

Niamh Eastwood, the charity’s executive director, said two select committees have called for drug policy reform – including investment in treatment, overdose prevention sites and a review of the law to end criminal sanctions for possession offences.

She added: “If the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister continue to ignore these calls then they will continue to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people every year. It is time to stop playing politics and listen to the evidence.

“People are dying and government inaction is contributing to these deaths.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Our approach on drugs remains clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities, support people through treatment and recovery, and tackle the supply of illegal drugs.

“Earlier this year we announced an independent review into drug treatment services, which have the potential to help thousands of people to recover every year, and findings will inform future action on substance misuse.”