Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has called for more to be done to tackle drug deaths following the publication of the Office for National Statistics data on drug related deaths.
The statistics show that there were 4,561 deaths related to drug poisoning registered in England and Wales in 2020 – the highest number since records began in 1993.
The North East has had the highest rate of drug misuse of any English region for the past eight consecutive years.
ONS data shows that across County Durham and Darlington, there were:
In the North East as a whole, it region continues to have the highest rate of deaths relating to drug misuse, at 104.6 deaths per one million people.
PCC Allen was recently appointed Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) Joint Lead on Alcohol and Substance misuse, with a focus on addressing drug and alcohol related deaths and crime.
The Police and Crime Commissioner said: "I am saddened and deeply disappointed to see a such a significant rise in drug-related deaths in England and Wales. These shocking figures highlight more needs to be done to support those with drug addiction to help them recover and get their life back. Drug addiction destroys not only the user’s life but has a devastating impact on families and communities.
I am committed to tackling drug misuse which includes delivering high-quality treatment and recovery services for those with addiction problems to improve rates of recovery, prevent premature death and reduce the demand for drugs, as well as overseeing the implementation of Dame Carol Black’s recommendations.
"£864,000 has been secured through universal funding to help reduce crime in relation to drug use and deaths across County Durham and Darlington. This fund will ensure a whole systems approach as Harm Reduction workers will be employed to lead on providing training for naloxone, overdose prevention and provide information on harm reduction equipment and initiatives.
"I will continue to work closely with councils and partners to provide treatment and support services to those across County Durham and Darlington with substance misuse problems as it is only by working together we can tackle the underlying causes that we can prevent vulnerable people from dying.”