Drug deaths hit their highest level for 15 years


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









Teenage survey finds that Richmond has highest level of cannabis use

spliff-2The affluent borough of Richmond has the highest level of young people smoking cannabis in London.

A national survey of 15-year-olds found that 19% living in Richmond had tried the drug.  This is the second highest rate in England – the highest is 24% in Brighton.

Across London, 27% of 15-year-olds say that they have been offered cannabis, in line with the national rate.  A little over 1 in 10 say that they have tried smoking the drug but rates are higher in 13 boroughs.

Richmond stands out as having the highest rates, and as reported by Urbs, also has the highest proportion of teenagers drinking alcohol and getting drunk. 16% of 15 year-olds in Lambeth and Islington say they have tried cannabis, with 15% in Camden, Haringey, Lewisham and Wandsworth.

Cannabis map

Rates are much lower in the east of the capital. Just 6% in Tower Hamlets and Redbridge, 7% in Newham and 8% in Barking and Dagenham, and Havering.

The data from the What About YOUth survey reveals that young people from a mixed ethnic background are most likely to have been offered and tried cannabis.  Those from Asian backgrounds are least likely.  93% say they have never smoked the drug, according to the survey, compared to 89% of all 15-year-olds.

Richmond also has the highest rates for teenagers who say they have smoked cannabis in the last year (17%) and in the last month (8.5%).

The survey offered little evidence of a link between cannabis and other drugs. Just 3% of 15-year-olds in London say that they have tried other drugs, though rates are between 5-6% in Bromley, Haringey and Camden.

Source data

See also

Kensington teenage girls have the most negative body image in England

Teens saying no to booze, but Richmond tops list for 15-year-olds getting drunk

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


Drug resistant TB poses health and financial concern

Mycobacterium_tuberculosis_Bacteria,_the_Cause_of_TB_By NIAID [CC BY 2.0 (http-//creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2.

Photo: by NIAID CC BY 2.0

London faces a potential health care and treatment funding crisis caused by the development of drug resistant TB.

There were 2,500 cases of tuberculosis in London last year, that’s more than any other western European city. 9% of those cases were resistant to the first line of antibiotics used to fight the infection. And the Health Committee of the London Assembly warns that drug resistance is set to rise.

In its report Tackling TB in London the Health Committee highlights how the risk from TB is increased by the lack of knowledge and the social stigma attached to the disease and it calls on the Mayor to do more to raise awareness.

It also suggests a more unified and consistent approach to treating the infection across the capital. Currently, treatment and prevention is handled at a local level and the approach varies between the 30 clinics. The committee warns that this can lead to a fragmented approach. This is underlined by the fact that only 24 of the 32 boroughs offer universal vaccination against TB to babies.

Cases of TB have risen by 50% in the last 15 years. A third of boroughs have what is classified by the World Health Organisation as a high incidence – that is more than 40 cases per 100,000 people. But in some areas of Newham, Brent, Hounslow, Harrow and Ealing it is over 150, a higher level than many developing world counties such as Rwanda or Iraq.

At borough level, Newham has the highest incidence in London and England, followed by Brent. London accounts for 40% of all TB cases in England.

TB map

TB is caused by bacteria and spread through coughing and sneezing. It most commonly affects the lungs, causing serious illness, and is potentially fatal.

It is treated by a 6-month course of antibiotics that costs around £5,000. Last year £30 million was spent tackling TB in London. Drug resistant strains of the infection require complex treatments often involving hospital care and costs are typically 10 times higher or more.

TB is closely linked to social deprivation with those who are homeless, living in overcrowded conditions, misusing drugs and alcohol, or with weakened immune systems particularly vulnerable.

Many people who are exposed to the tuberculosis bacterium will fight it off or may carry it in their bodies without getting sick. This is known as latent TB.

More than 80% of the cases in London are seen in people born outside the UK, though only a small proportion in those who have recently arrived. The most common countries of origin for non-UK born cases are India, Pakistan and Somalia.

Sufferers may have contracted TB in countries with high incidence and carried the infection in latent form only for it to become active while living in London.   Chronic illness or poor housing and nutrition may have acted as a trigger in these cases.

The rate for non-UK born cases has fallen in recent years but those for UK residents have remained unchanged.

The Health Committee reports says that far from being a disease of London’s past TB continues to present a significant public health challenge.

Source data

Tackling TB in London report

Borough level data

See also

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

Sexual infection map shows problems for Lambeth and Southwark

Health and wealth – an East/West divide when it comes to a flu jab


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

heroinLondon has the lowest rate of deaths caused by drug abuse for any region of England and Wales. Last year 226 people in the capital died as a result of taking drugs. Most of them were men and most of them were the result of an unintentional overdose.

In the early 90s London had the worst record in the country for drug related deaths. The number of people killed reached a peak at the end of the 90s.

Drugs death london

During that period rates in other regions of the country began to rise, particularly in the North West of England. In the 2000’s the rate in London began to fall gently and since 2011 London has had the lowest mortality rate. Last year there were 25.4 deaths per million people in the capital. In the North West of England the rate is over 60 per million and in the North East nearly 70. The North East has seen the biggest increase over 20 years. In 1993 its mortality rate for drug misuse was just 14 per million.

drugs national

The data is based on registered deaths where drug misuse is defined as the cause of death. The data is collected by the ONS. The national figures give some surprising insights into the demographics of drug abuse.

The group with the highest death rate through drug misuse are not young people, as might be assumed, but people 40-49. The number of heroin and morphine related deaths in this group for 2014 is the highest on record. People aged 30-39 have the second highest death rate. People in their 20s have a lower mortality for drug misuse than those in their 50s and 60s.

Drugs deaths age

Men are 2.5 times more likely than women to die from drug misuse. 79% of the male deaths were unintentional. The rate for women is slightly lower at 69% and women show a greater level of intentional self-harm.

The national data also shows a substantial increase in the number of deaths caused by heroin and morphine which have risen by two thirds between 2012 and 2014. Deaths caused by cocaine use have also increased.

The detailed data at local authority level is grouped in batches of 3 years. The picture for London for 2012-14 shows that the highest deaths rates are in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Islington. The lowest rates are in the outer boroughs of Merton, Hillingdon and Enfield.

Drugs death map


Source data

See also

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

Homeless Romanians help drive up rough sleeper numbers

Photo: © Slawek Kozakiewicz | Dreamstime.com

Photo: © Slawek Kozakiewicz | Dreamstime.com

There has been a significant increase in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of London in the past year and the rise is largely driven by people from Central and Eastern Europe.

7,581 homeless people were seen sleeping on the streets from April 2014 to March 2015. That’s a 16% increase on the previous 12 months.  UK nationals make up 43% of that total and their numbers increased by 267 on the previous 12 months.  Central and Eastern European make up 37% of the total and their numbers increased by 728 to 2,695.  Romanians make up nearly half of this group (1,388) and their number has doubled since 2013-14.  Poles are the second largest group of Eastern Europeans.

Rough sleepers are categorised in 3 ways – new people who have not been seen before, people who have been seen a number of times recently and are considered to be living on the streets, and intermittent rough sleepers who may have had contact with support networks previously.

Rough sleepers

All categories are up in the past 12 months with the most significant increase of 20% in intermittent rough sleepers, people back on the street. There had been little change in overall numbers in the previous year.

The data was produced by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) based on information supplied by outreach workers. CHAIN is funded by the GLA and managed by the charity St Mungos Broadway.

A high percentage of homeless people have problems with alcohol, drugs, mental health issues, or all 3. Outreach workers recorded that 41% needed support for alcohol problems and a similar proportion had mental health issues. 31% had drug problems.

Only 9 children were found sleeping rough in the year. People under 35 make up nearly half the number, but 710 older people, over 55, were discovered.

Nearly all the rough sleepers seen were men, 86%.   151 were former armed services members. 32% had been in prison.

A third of the rough sleepers in London are found in the central area of Westminster. Camden, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Southwark and City of London also have significant numbers and only Southwark saw a reduction in the period. 266 people were found sleeping rough at Heathrow Airport. That’s up by 100 on the previous year.

Outreach teams were able to get 2,197 rough sleepers into some form of accommodation. That’s 29%, down from 38% the previous year.

Source data

See also

Landlords reclaim record number of rented homes


Crime Report: Hammersmith and Fulham

The crime rate in Hammersmith and Fulham is 37% above the London average. Rates are higher in all major categories apart from burglary.

The Metropolitan Police recorded 20,200 crimes in the 12 months to the end of March 2015, which means a rate of 111 crimes per 1000 people. The London average is 81.

Crime report Hammersmith and Fulham

Drug offences were 85% above the London average. Theft, assault and sexual offences were also much higher. Sexual offences included 125 rapes, 18% above city levels.

Theft from motor vehicles was particularly prevalent, 75% above the London average, and there were 748 cycle thefts, which is 106% above the average.

Hammersmith and Fulham recorded 2 murders during the 12 months.

Source data

More crime reports

Crime Report: Hackney

Hackney has a high level of crime with theft, robbery, assault and sexual offences all well above the average for London.

Data from the Metropolitan Police reveals that there were 25,600 crimes in the 12-months ending March 2015. That translates as 97 crimes per 1000 people in the borough. The average for London is 81.

Crime report Hackney

Within the major crime categories there are some wide variations. Burglary from households was 7% below the London average but burglary from other buildings was 45% higher. Within theft, shoplifting is 44% below the London average but there were 591 cases of theft or taking a motor vehicle – that’s 12% above the city level.

Drug offences generally are below average but there were 29% more cases of trafficking drugs than the London average.

Cycle theft is also a problem. 1,282 bikes were stolen in the period. That is 142% higher than average for London.

5 of London’s 92 murders were committed in Hackney.

Source data

More crime reports

Crime Report: Greenwich

Greenwich has higher levels of sexual offences and violence than the average for London but its overall crime rate is in line with capital-wide levels.

The 21,000 crimes in the borough in the year to March 2015 included 170 rapes, which is 8% above the London average.   Violence against the person was 11% higher.

The latest data from the Metropolitan Police shows that there were 78 crimes per 1000 people. The London average is 81.

Crime report Greenwich

Although drug offences were generally low there were 116 cases of the specific offence of drug trafficking, 12% above the London average. There is also a problem with shoplifting with 1,534 offences recorded, 20% above average.

2 murders took place in Greenwich during the 12-month period.

Source data

More crime reports

Crime Report: Barnet

Barnet has a below average level of crime but there were 5 murders in London’s most populous borough in the past year.

The most recent crime data from the Metropolitan Police for the year to March 2015 shows that Barnet has a crime rate of 61 crimes per 1000 people. The London average is 81.

Crime report Barnet

There were 23,000 crimes in the borough during the period that included 3,668 burglaries, which is 13% above the London average. There were 533 incidents of interfering or tampering with motor vehicles – that’s 39% above the London average.

Drug offences were at half the rate seen on average across the capital.

Source data

More crime reports