Leeds drugs death toll highest in Yorkshire

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Drugs deaths in Leeds are at the highest level in Yorkshire, new figures show, as the purity of the most commonly used drugs like cocaine increases.

Government statistics, released yesterday, show there were 120 deaths from drug poisonings in Leeds from 2013 to 2015, a rate of nearly one a week.

And as experts cite an increase in the purity of drugs like cocaine and heroin, a local charity has said it is doing everything in its power to save lives.

“These statistics are so sad,” said Lisa Parker, executive director of Forward Leeds. “Every single one of these deaths represents a tragic loss.

“Forward Leeds began running the drug and alcohol service in the city in July, 2015. Since then, we’ve worked hard to combat the real problems people in our city face.

“We’ve got strong, assertive outreach and harm reduction programmes and have put in place a comprehensive approach to helping people. We take every death in Leeds very seriously and robustly review each and every one, so we can learn from these losses.”

Nationwide, there were 3,674 drug poisoning deaths registered in England and Wales in 2015, the highest since records began in 1993. The figures for Yorkshire show a big difference between towns and cities, with the second highest number of deaths registered being in Sheffield (101). The lowest numbers of registered deaths were in Richmondshire (one) and Craven (three).

The report has found that nationwide, deaths involving heroin or morphine doubled in three years to 1,201 in 2015.

There were 320 deaths involving cocaine, up from 247 in the previous year, while deaths linked to new psychoactive substances - formerly known as ‘legal highs’ - have increased sharply, with 114 registered last year.

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