Drugs warning after three people die in 24 hours in South Shields

Three people have died in 24 hours.
Three people have died in 24 hours.

Police are issuing a drugs warning after three people died in the space of 24 hours in South Shields.

Two women, aged 27 and 25 and a man aged 41 all died in the town between November 20 and 21.

Police say the 27-year-old woman died on Monday, after presenting herself at South Tyneside Hospital.

The 25-year-old woman was found dead near Newcastle Road, in South Shields, at midday the same day.

The third victim, a 41-year-old man, was found dead in Gresford Street in the West Park area of the town.

All three were from South Tyneside, officers have said.

The cause of their deaths is not yet known and it is not known if the deaths are linked but it’s believed all three had taken illegal drugs.

Detective Inspector Sean McGuigan said: “The dangers of taking drugs are well known and we want to reiterate this and warn people not to take illegal drugs, or any drugs that have not been prescribed to them.

"If anyone has taken an illegal substance and becomes unwell they should seek medical advice immediately.”

Anyone concerned about drug use can talk to FRANK either by visiting http://www.talktofrank.com/ ringing 0300 123 660 or text 82111.

The triple-tragedy means there have now been four drugs deaths in South Tyneside in the space of a week.

A 22-year-old man from Jarrow died last Tuesday after becoming unwell at an address in Foxhomes at 3am.

Emergency services and police attended the address and were told that the man was believed to have taken ecstasy.

He was taken to hospital by paramedics but died in hospital.

Northumbria Police has issued a picture of the orange pill linked to the warning and said: "If you have been offered them or have them in your possession then please get in touch as it could assist our investigation."

Police have said the bright orange pills are distinctive and have asked anyone who is offered them or has them in their possession to hand them in to police.

Anyone who has information about the drugs should contact Northumbria Police on 101, quoting reference 68 14/11/17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Anyone who has taken these pills and needs emergency medical attention should always call 999.

The deaths come after figures, in August, showed one person a month is dying on South Tyneside due to drug misuse.

The report into drug deaths from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that there were 28 deaths in the borough between 2014 and 2016.

That number is however down from 29 in 2013 to 2015.

Of the 28 who died due to drug misuse, 21 were men and seven were women.

In neighbouring Sunderland, there were 52 deaths in the past two years, while in North Tyneside there were 47.

Between 2014 and 2016 there were 532 deaths in the region and a total of 6,803 nationally, up by almost 600 on 2013 to 2015’s figures.

The North East has the highest mortality rate, with 77.4 deaths due to drugs per million population, a 13% increase from 2015, compared to 42.9 deaths per million population in England.

A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said at the time: “Any drug related death in South Tyneside is a tragedy and reducing this figure is a priority for South Tyneside Council.

“National figures have highlighted that increased numbers of deaths are attributed essentially to the illicit use of heroin and/or morphine.

“The figures for South Tyneside are below those of neighbouring authorities but we will continue to make every effort to tackle drug misuse across the borough and reduce this figure still further.”

She added: “A sophisticated and well-developed structure of treatment service providers has been established by the council, which is a proven way of assisting people to put drug misuse behind them as well as preventing drug-related deaths.

“Anyone needing advice and support is asked to contact the national drug helpline on 0800 77 66 00.”

Coun Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said at the time: “The biggest challenge we all face is an ageing cohort of drug users, who have not previously sought or had any treatment.

“As a result, they are prone to an accumulation of chronic physical and mental health conditions that make them more susceptible to dying through overdose.”

“Councils are committed to ensuring drug users get the right support and treatment, and spend more on drug and alcohol treatment than in any other area of public health.

“But it is essential that we engage those not already in drug treatment.”