THE leader of a drug rehabilitation group has said certain factors in Barrow have created 'a perfect storm' for people to become drug addicts.

David Higham, the chief executive of The Well Communities, made the statement as data from the Government revealed the number of crack cocaine hand opiate addicts in Cumbria.

Statistics from Public Health England showed there more than 2,300 people addicted to those substances in the county - among the highest in 23 areas of the north west of varying size.

The figures put the county higher than areas including Blackpool, Bolton, Blackburn and Salford.

The Well has centres across the north west and Mr Higham said he thought deprivation in Barrow was one of the factors behind the number.

He said: "When you look in Barrow, there's a lot of poverty and where's the a lot of poverty there's a lot of trauma and then crime.

"It is like we are breeding the next generation of addicts, it is like a perfect storm for people to become addicted.

"We get people time and time again from this background and we have seen the consequences.

"We help support people and keep them alive."

Dave Pidduck, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, accepted some people may find themself in difficult circumstances but progress to prevent addiction arising could be made by working in partnership with other agencies.

He said: "We do not want it to be a perfect storm, we want to create a perfect circle.

"We want to help people who may be addicted to find the support they need. And it is not just up to the council to do that, but a number of partners."

He said the council was trying to tackle the problem of unemployment leading to drugs and explained the unique situation in Barrow.

"We have the best of worlds and the worst of worlds.

"With BAE contracts we have employment secured into the 2030s but there are still people who struggle for gainful employment.

"We hope people can find employment and then get the discipline that comes with that work."