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Number of rough sleepers dying dramatically rises

  • WATCH: Andy Dickenson reports on the crisis on our streets

The number of rough sleepers dying across the South has increased.

Data from the Office for National Statistics found the biggest increase in deaths of homeless people in England and Wales since records began.

It found that 11 homeless people have died in Brighton last year.

There were three recorded deaths of people who'd been sleeping rough or using emergency shelters in 2015.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that councils require a "long-term sustainable funding solution" provided by the government.

The government says its programmes are "helping more people than ever before access vital support."

Brighton and Hove council said it is "determined" to prevent further deaths.

9
Homeless deaths in Dorset
12
Homeless deaths in Hampshire
16
Homeless deaths in Thames Valley
11
Homeless deaths in Brighton & Hove

The ONS found that deaths overall had increased by 22% in 2018.

Two in five of these fatalities were found to be drug related, compared to just 16 per cent in the population as a whole.

There were 33 deaths in the Meridian region during that period, including 9 in Dorset and 12 in Hampshire.

There was however a fall in the number of deaths in the Thames Valley, down 3 to 16 on 2017.

Opiates, including heroin and morphine, were found to the most common substances listed on the death certificates of homeless people.

  • Stats are "shocking" says Brighton and Hove council

Brighton & Hove Council, which has seen a sharp increase over the last four years, said the new figures show "the tragic human toll" of homelessness.

It says it has a "welfare first" approach, with services "co-ordinated" across the city.

In Brighton & Hove, we understand the seriousness of each and every death. We are one of the first local authorities to set up a mortality review process which began in April this year. An investigation is now carried out following the death of anyone who rough sleeping, accommodated in emergency or temporary accommodation or living in supported housing designed to meet the needs of single homeless and previously rough sleeping people. We will make sure the findings are used to develop help for those in need."

– Cllr Nicole Brennan
  • Figures are "worrying" says LGA

Responding to the announcement, the LGA described the figures as "worrying".

Cllr David Renard called on the government to "provide councils with a long-term sustainable funding solution" to reduce homelessness.

He said that better funding for public health was required.

With two in five deaths related to drug poisoning, [we need to] adequately fund public health services so that councils can invest in drug and alcohol treatment services to make sure people get the support they need.

– Cllr David Renard, LGA

He also called on the government to "adapt welfare reforms to protect families at risk of becoming homeless, and give councils the powers to invest in new homes for those that need them, such as through reforming the Right to Buy scheme to enable councils to keep all sales receipts and set discounts locally.”

  • "Much more to do" says government

The government said the statistics are a "sombre reminder that there is still much more to do" on homelessness and rough sleeping.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Governments says that they are currently undertaking a "comprehensive review" of drug policy which "will help protest the most vulnerable."

We are also investing £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness and have made the most ambitious change to legislation in a decade. This is helping more people than ever before access vital support to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place."

– Government Spokesman

They added that they are working "tirelessly" to provide the right advice and support to get people off the streets.