New report reveals sharp rise in number dying while experiencing homelessness in Scotland

There has been a sharp rise in the number of deaths of people experiencing homelessness in Scotland, according to the latest figures published by National Records of Scotland.

Experimental Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 195 deaths of people experiencing homelessness registered in Scotland in 2018, an increase of 19% on the estimate of 164 in 2017.

These statistics include people who were in temporary accommodation at the time of their death as well as those who were sleeping rough.

Other key points revealed include:

  • Scotland had the highest rate of homeless deaths of all GB countries in 2018 with a rate of 35.9 per million population compared to 16.8 in England and 14.5 in Wales.
  • In 2018 Glasgow City (100.5) and Aberdeen City (67.8) had the highest homeless death rates per million population. Shetland islands had a homeless death rate of 111.8 per million population but this was based on a very small number of deaths so should be interpreted with caution.
  • More than half of homeless deaths in 2018 were drug-related (53%, 104).
  • Around three quarters of homeless deaths were males (74% of the total in 2017 and 79% in 2018).
  • The mean age at death was 43 for females and 44 for males.

Paul Lowe, the Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland and Registrar General for Scotland, said: “NRS has developed a method of estimating the incidence of homeless deaths in response to user demand. It is important to stress that these are experimental statistics and we will continue to work with users and stakeholders to assess their suitability and quality, as we continue to develop our methodology in future years”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Behind these shocking figures lie individual personal tragedies. People living in desperate situations ultimately failed by the system. They will leave behind them bereaved relatives and friends who have our sympathies.

“It is vital that the effort to end this loss of life does not end with the publication of the figures.

“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. We also need to see housing that supports people to recover and stay well.

“The Housing First model is a good example of how this can be done but only if it is adequately resourced with good housing and highly-skilled professionals providing support services to ensure it reaches those most at risk.”

The publication Homeless Deaths 2017 and 2018 is available here.

Picture (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.