THERE has been a rise in the number of homeless people dying in the south west last year, new figures show.

Fifty two people died in the region in 2017, a rise of six per cent in the past five years.

The figure has risen by nearly a quarter since 2013, from 482 to 597 across England and Wales, says the Office for National Statistics.

Life expectancy for the homeless is nearly half that for people in stable housing, with homeless men and women dying on average at the age of 44.

It was estimated that last year more than one in 10 homeless deaths were due to suicide, while more than two-fifths was due to drug poisoning or alcohol-related.

Earlier this month a homeless man, Carl Lancelot, died outside a nightclub in Bournemouth.

Government figures released last week showed the number of households living in temporary accommodation in England had risen by 5% in a year to 82,310.

Data previously showed the number of people officially recorded as sleeping on the streets of England rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,751 in 2017, but charities warned the true figure could be more than double this.

However, Bournemouth and Poole councils have recently stated that the number of people sleeping rough in Bournemouth and Poole has fallen.

The annual count of homeless people who sleep on the streets took place late last month and showed that last year 48 people were counted, and this year it was 29.

There was a similar drop in Poole, where ten sleepers were discovered in 2018, compared to 13 last year.

Work on the latest ONS figures was prompted by research from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in October, which found that at least 449 homeless people had died in the UK in the previous 12 months.

The ONS defined homeless people as those sleeping rough or using accommodation such as homeless shelters or hostels at around the time of their death.