THE rising drug death toll is behind a rise in deaths among homeless people according to new statistics.

Dozens of people registered as homeless died in Glasgow in a year according to the official figures.

The city’s total was almost one third of all deaths registered in Scotland for people who were homeless.

The numbers include people in temporary accommodation as well as those sleeping rough and most were drug related.

More than half (53%) of the homeless deaths in Scotland were drug-related.

The figures, for 2018, which is also the last awailable year for drug death statistics when 280 people died in Glasgow, a rise of more than 40%.

The National Records for Scotland figures showed there were 49 deaths among people in Glasgow identified as homeless but the estimated number was 63, and those working in the field believe it will almsot certainly be even higher.

The figures come on a day when Glasgow City Mission reported its Winter Night Shelter, with 40 spaces, was full up for the last four nights and campaigners, The Invisibles, said they met with another 21 people sleeping rough on the street last night.

Across Scotland the numbers were 152 identified as homeless and 195 estimated deaths.

Scotland has by far the highest rate of homeless deaths in the UK at 35.9 per million population compared to 16.8 in England and 14.5 in Wales.

Campaigners said the figures demand urgent action.

Graeme Brown, Director of housing charity, Shelter Scotland, said:

“The housing, health, social care and justice sectors need to work more closely together to ensure people get the tailored support they need for health issues such as mental illness and addictions.”

Grant Campbell, Director of Crisis Scotland, said: “For the first time, we can see the true, devastating scale of the number of people who have died without a place to call home, because of failings within the very system which should have prevented them from falling into poverty and homelessness in the first place. Behind these figures are human beings - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.

Sean Clerkin, housing campaigner had a petition considered at Holyrood on extra funding for homeless services. He said: “We urge the Finance Secretary Derek McKay to set aside £130 in his budget to provide first class Housing First and temporary accommodation for a short period.”

In Glasgow the council and health board said the deaths were another sign of the drugs emergency.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership said: “Tragically, many of our service users who died had previous or existing addiction issues, some also had significant physical and mental health needs. It is the complexity of those needs, which often contributed to their deaths, rather than specific matters associated with their housing status.

“Sadly, Scotland and Glasgow is experiencing a drugs deaths crisis – which includes record numbers of fatal overdoses and a rise in HIV infections. Some people known to homeless services are among those who have lost their lives – mainly in temporary accommodation or hospitals.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the government was “doubling it’s efforts to tackle homelessness.

He said: “While this report is based on experimental statistics, it’s findings will help the Scottish Government to further understand the many issues affecting the most vulnerable in our society and will help us as we double our efforts to eradicate homelessness and it’s causes, in Scotland.”