How many people die when they are down and out and homeless?

Homeless 5

 Down and out in Barcelona – a familiar sight in even the richest cities.

By Karin Goodwin, investigative journalist: Pictures by Bill Heaney

Scotland’s national records office has said it will undertake a review that could see it count the deaths of homeless people for the first time.

The announcement comes after The Ferret – working in partnership with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism – found that at least 94 people had died while homeless in Scotland in the last twelve months.

They included those who were sleeping rough as well as homeless people in temporary accommodation such as hostels and bed and breakfasts. Those sofa surfing or homeless but in hospital or prison were also counted.

In Glasgow alone 47 people died while homeless since October 2017. One died in the city’s winter night shelter, others in hostels around the city. In Edinburgh 22 homeless people died including two sleeping rough on the streets, one on a night when temperatures fell to minus five.

Many local authorities under-reported numbers or did not provide statistics requested. Currently no official statistics are collected despite calls to measure the number in the same way as drug deaths are recorded.

West Dunbartonshire Council refused to comment to The Democrat.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that at least 449 people had died across the UK in the 12 months from 1 October 2017.

Homeless - Rough sleepers gather for a drinking session on the Meadows in Edinburgh

Down and out in Edinburgh – homeless men have their “breakfast” on the Meadows. Picture Bill Heaney

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