21:21 GMT28 October 2020
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    Drug usage and homelessness has historically been a problem which has plagued much of the UK, in particular Scotland. Drug-use prevalence and homelessness has taken a serious toll on the population, seeing both increase drastically in the last decade.

    The rate of homeless deaths in Scotland is higher rate than across the rest of the UK, according to official statistics published on Wednesday.

    According to a report which observed a 2-year period, the National Records of Scotland (NRS) estimates that 195 people died across Scotland in 2018, and 164 in 2017.

    ​Per million of the population, the numbers are more than twice that of England where 692 deaths were recorded in 2018. 

    The figures included those who were staying in temporary accommodation (hostels, homeless, shelters, bed and breakfasts etc) as well as on the streets.

    “For the first time, we can see the true, devastating scale of the number of people who have died without a place to call home, because of failings within the very system which should have prevented them from falling into poverty and homelessness in the first place", said Grant Campbell, director of the campaign group, Crisis Scotland.

    “Behind these figures are human beings – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. This is a damning and urgent reminder that we need to do so much more to support some of our most vulnerable citizens".

    “Every death must be fully investigated so that we can learn from the failings which caused someone to die without a home", Campbell added.

    Scottish housing minister, Kevin Stewart, claimed that the figures demonstrated a connection between homelessness and drug deaths and reflect a wider social problem.

    “The reasons that lead to homelessness are often very complex, and many people who died while experiencing homelessness will have struggled with complex life challenges including addiction, poor mental health, and family breakdown”, he said.

    “While this report is based on experimental statistics, its findings will help the Scottish Government to further understand the many issues affecting the most vulnerable in our society and will help us as we double our efforts to eradicate homelessness and its causes in Scotland".

    A Growing Problem

    Despite promises from the Scottish government the figures demonstrated that those who are dying while homeless as an increasing issue.

    Death rates were especially high in Glasgow with 63 deaths across the city in 2018 (100.5 deaths per million).

    Aberdeen experienced high death rates that year with 15, while Shetland saw three deaths on the island.

    Just a small number of deaths were due to suicide at *% per cent in 2017 and 12 per cent in 2018. Other causes included alcohol related harm, mental health disorders, respiratory problems, heart disease, strokes and cancer.

    Around of the deaths were drug-related, indicating a connection between housing crisis and substance use.


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