POLITICIANS have said they are shocked after it was revealed in official figures a town has one of the worst rates for drug-related deaths.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed Gosport has a rate of 10 drug abuse deaths per 100,000 people, with 25 deaths recorded between 2014 and 2016.
Of these deaths, 19 were men and six were women.
This makes Gosport the sixth worst local authority area for the rate of deaths, more than twice the national average of 4.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The borough was also the worst ranked place on the south coast.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said action must now be taken.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘These figures are incredibly shocking.
‘To me, it is really important that we look at the situation more closely, and see what more we can do as a community to prevent this from continuing.’
Blackpool had the worst rate of drug-related deaths, with 20 deaths per 100,000 people – 79 deaths in total.
Between 2001 and 2003, there were three drug abuse-related deaths in Gosport – meaning there has been an increase of 733 per cent.
Statistics from the ONS revealed that 2016 saw the highest number of drug-related deaths since records began in 1993.
From this, more than 50 per cent of deaths involved an opiate, such as heroin.
Portsmouth and Havant also fared poorly in the statistics.
There were 55 deaths in the city in 2016, and 22 in the Havant borough – though the population difference brings down their death rates.
Fareham had some of the lowest figures in the county, with nine deaths and a rate of 2.9 per 100,000 people.
Leader of Gosport Borough Council, Councillor Mark Hook, said the figures were surprisingly high.
Cllr Hook said: ‘It is surprising that the figure is so high, since we work so closely with the police on drug-related issues.
‘It is a stark reminder to those who indulge in drug abuse about the realities and dangers of it.
‘We will be working with our agencies and partners to clamp down on this sort of behaviour.
‘It is important that we take action to help stop this figure increasing any more – but I am surprised that it is as high as it is.’
People who are suffering with drug problems should contact their GP immediately, advice says.
If you do not feel comfortable speaking to a GP, you can call Inclusion Recovery Hampshire on 0300 124 0103.
Young people can call the substance misuse charity Catch 22 for help and advice on 0800 599 9591.