Drug deaths hit their highest level for 15 years

heroin

The number of people killed by drug abuse in London is at its highest level this century.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 298 people died due to misuse of illegal substances in 2015, the highest number since 1999. It is also the highest death rate since the late 90s – 35 per million residents.

The rate of drug deaths has been increasing since 2012 after a downward trend this century from high points in the late 90s.  But although it has risen, the capital still has the second lowest mortality rate of all the regions in England and Wales. Only the East Midlands has a lower rate than London. The highest death rates are now in the North East, North West, Wales, and Yorkshire and Humberside.

Drug death rate regions-2

This is a turnaround from 1993, when the current data record begins.  London had the highest mortality rate and accounted for 23% of all deaths.  In 2015 that had halved to 12% of deaths as the problem of illegal drug misuse has become more widespread.

Drug death comparison-2

Across London, Haringey and central areas of Westminster, Lambeth, Southwark Camden, Islington and Tower Hamlets have that most serious problems.  The data at borough level is gathered for three-year periods due to very low numbers in some areas.  From 2013 to 2015, 43 people died in Haringey and 42 in both Westminster and Lambeth.

map drug deeaths 2015-2

There were fewer than 20 deaths in the period in most of the outlying boroughs, and in Merton, Barking and Dagenham and among the small population of the City of London the number of deaths was in single figures.

Source data

See also

Low drug-related death rates hide middle-aged heroin problem

Teenage survey finds that Richmond has highest level of cannabis use

Violence, disruption and drugs – why 20,000 pupils were excluded from school last year