Today it was announced that Scotland's drug-related deaths increased to 1,187 last year.  This takes Scotland to 218 deaths per million of the population.  This made me think, "what about Oxfordshire and Oxford".

I consulted the JSNA (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment) and found that the death rate in Oxfordshire was 25 per million - considerably lower than the quoted England rate (43) or South East (39).  But the JSNA says that of the 49 deaths half were in Oxford City.  Using population statistics I come up with the rate in Oxford City as 161 per million population.  Lower than Scotland but if we were on the list of European countries published by the BBC we would be in second place.

Should we be worried?  Yes.  Earlier this year a number of rough sleepers died drug related deaths in Oxford, so the number may be rising.  So what should we do?

Many of the articles today on Scotland suggest that 'fix rooms' or the decriminalisation of drugs may be the solution.  Evidence from Portugal, Switzerland and Canada where drug laws have been relaxed would suggest that steps in this direction could help reduce the number of deaths.

I remember at the end of the excellent TV programme Traffik (which starts in Oxford), the character played by Bill Paterson gives a speech where he explains that there is no way of stopping the supply of drugs and the only solution to this problem is to limit the demand.  To do this we must work together to tackle homelessness, inequality of opportunity, and build stronger communities.