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Aberdeen had second worst death rate for homeless in Scotland in 2018

Wednesday February 5th 2020 at 2:03 PM

Aberdeen City had the second highest estimated death rate of homeless people, per million of population, in Scotland in 2018.

Photo: Maureen Barling.

Experimental Statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland revealed 195 people died on our streets in 2018, an increase of 19% on the previous year.

In Aberdeen, the estimated death rate of homeless people was 67.8 per million of population, with 12 identified deaths and 15 estimated ones.

That was only topped by Glasgow and Shetland, however the latter was based on a very small number of deaths and should be treated with caution.

In Aberdeenshire the picture was slightly better, with seven fewer identified and estimated deaths in 2018 than in 2017.

The figures also revealed that Scotland had a higher rate of of homeless deaths than England or Wales, with a rate of 35.9 per million population compared to 16.8 and 14.5 respectively.

Of the 195 people who died on streets north of the border in 2018, around three quarters were men. The mean age at death was 43 for females and 44 for males. 

More than half of the recorded deaths were drug related.

Policy and Advocacy Manager at Shelter Scotland, Debbie King, urged all sectors to work together to tackle homelessness deaths.

She said: “We know that many people struggle when they’re homeless. It could be that they’re in temporary accommodation, in hostels or rough sleeping.

“For people in that situation, it is absolutely vital that they get the right support at the right time and that there are homes for them where they can be safe.

“We’re needing to see all the different sectors working more closely together.

“Whether it’s health, housing or justice we all need to work very closely to prevent the deaths that are occurring in Scotland today.”

Debbie King

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “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.

“These challenges are often driven by a history of poverty, childhood adversity and trauma, including deteriorating physical and mental health, poor housing, contact with the criminal justice system, and other issues.

“This report shows that of the number of people who died while experiencing homelessness, 53% were drug related deaths. This reflects the wider public health emergency Scotland is facing over drug deaths.

“The next meeting of the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group will have a specific focus on public health and addiction issues and both myself and the Public Health Minister will be attending.

“One person being made homeless is one too many and that is why the Scottish Government are working in partnership to transform services to ensure our system supports those at risk.

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