“It’s headline grabbing, but if they were interested, they would find out about what we are doing to resolve issues.”
Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams has hit back at a national media report depicting Blackpool as being riddled with drug users.
An article by The Sun newspaper branded the resort a ‘drug death capital’ and claimed heroin was being ‘cooked at school gates’.
It came after recently published government figures showed 42 drug related deaths in Blackpool last year – giving it the highest drug related death rate in England and Wales.
But Coun Williams said schemes such as the ADDER project, which brought police and treatment services together, were being used to tackle addiction.
She said: “We know it’s an issue and we have to resolve it. It’s highlighted unfortunately in seaside towns and a lot comes back down to the health issues associated with living in sub-standard accommodation.
“But articles like this one are lazy journalism if they are produced without having a conversation with people like our director of public health Dr Arif Rajpura about the work which is being done.
“It’s headline grabbing, but if they were interested, they would find out about what we are doing to resolve issues.
“And national government is taking notice of what we are doing, but that doesn’t make a good headline.”
The latest approach revolves around the Drugs-Related Death and Non-Fatal Overdose (DRDNFO) Review Panel which brings together services inlcuding the police, public health, NHS and North West Ambulance Service which most frequently interact with drug users.
The aim is to pool knowledge from drug-related deaths and identify and support people who are most at risk.
People in Blackpool are, however, the most likely locally, and nationally, to die due to drug poisoning.
The area saw 106 deaths between 2017 and 2019, a rate of 27.5 per 100,000 people – almost four times higher than the England rate of 7.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
It also had the highest rate of drug misuse deaths at 18.9 per 100,000, quadruple the England rate of 4.7 per 100,000.