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The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster 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 215 drug related deaths in the West Midlands in the year ending March 2020. Rising from 185 in 2019 . In England and Wales there were 4,561 drug related deaths in that period, rising from 4,393 in 2019.

The PCC has also affirmed his commitment to working with providers of substance misuse support and partner agencies to help those with addiction problems get their lives back on track.

Mr Foster said: “These statistics are deeply saddening. Every person who loses their life to drugs is someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, partner, brother or sister – it is tragic and nobody should have to suffer that.

“Clearly this new data shows that more needs to be done, locally and nationally to help people break the cycle of addiction and get their lives back.

“Drugs cost the West Midlands £1.4 billion each year and half of all burglary, robbery, shoplifting and thefts are committed by someone looking to fund their drug addiction. The current approach we have in this country to drugs isn’t working.

“The government have a major role to play in changing the way drug policy is seen in the UK. It should act with haste to implement the recommendations of Dame Carol Black’s review into drug prevention, treatment and recovery and especially the reference to the need for a long term funding approach from government.

“I am committed to continuing to work in the West Midlands to help people suffering with substance misuse problems get the support and help they need. I am proud of the schemes we are leading on to support people. I’ve just expanded the Offender to Rehab programme which is helping people turn their lives around as well as leading to huge reductions in the cost of shoplifting to businesses and taking money away from drug gangs.

“The work we are doing in the West Midlands with the Cranstoun Arrest Referral Service and DIVERT will help to engage and support those with drug addiction as well as helping to stop lower level drug offenders get caught in the cycle of crime, but more needs to be done.”

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