DRUGS-poisoning deaths have more than doubled in Cumbria during the past decade according to shocking new national statistics.

Figures released from the Office for National Statistics show that since 2005 deaths caused by legal and illegal drugs in the county have jumped from 36 to 73.

County-wide and local officials have spoken out in the wake of this information saying more has to be done to reduce the devastating toll of drugs in our communities.

Barrow had the highest number of drugs-related deaths in the county at 9.9 per 100,000 citizens. This was almost double the nearest figure of 5.3 in Eden.

Shockingly it was also one of the highest in England and Wales. People in Barrow are more likely to die a drugs-related death than those in Manchester, Liverpool or Lancaster.

MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock said the government's drug strategy was failing people county wide.

He said: "The government’s approach to drug and addiction services in Cumbria is failing, and double the number of drug-related deaths in 10 years is simply terrifying.

"We know we have a long-standing drug problem locally, but it is absolutely shocking that people in Barrow are dying when savage cuts and restrictions in funding are getting in the way of helping people to give up drugs."

Cumbria county council, which oversees public health, said a collaborative approach was required to addressing this problem.

A spokesman said: "The issue of drug misuse is complex and one that requires working in true partnership.

"In Cumbria we have established a multi-agency Drug Related Death Group. Through this group we are examining recent drug-related deaths in Cumbria with the aim to use any findings to improve the services we offer to those who misuse drugs and as always to try and ensure people don’t misuse drugs in the first place."

It was also highlighted that the increased use of legal drugs had contributed to the spike in deaths.

Increased usage of powerful narcotics such as Fentanyl, and easy access to so-called legal highs have been attributed to the deadly increase.

Cumbria Police have said their efforts to crack down on the flow of drugs into the county will continue.

Detective chief inspector Brian Murray said: “Cumbria Police takes drug-related crime seriously and specifically in Barrow, our South Area Drug Unit works hard to target the suppliers of controlled drugs.

"Our officers will continue to target these criminals, working with partners to ensure that these substances are taken off our streets and that the offenders involved are brought to justice."

Drugs-related deaths: the highest rates:

1. Blackpool: 20.1

2. Neath Port Talbot: 11.6

3. Burnley: 11.3

4. Middlesbrough: 11.0

5. Hartlepool: 10.1

6. Gosport: 10.0

7. Barrow-in-Furness/Torridge: 9.9

8. Hastings: 9.8

9. Weymouth and Portland/Swansea: 9.7

10. Hyndburn/Chesterfield/ Portsmouth: 9.3

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