SHOCK new statistics show that deaths of homeless people in Bournemouth are FOUR times the national average for England and Wales.

An estimated 4.7 homeless people per 100,000 died in the five years from 2013-2017. The English and Welsh average combined is 1.2 homeless deaths per 100,000 of population over that time.

In 2017 an estimated nine homeless people died in Bournemouth which has been one of England and Wales' five worst places for deaths of this nature.

In 2013 the borough accounted for a quarter of all deaths of homeless people in the south west of England and the fifth worst of all English and Welsh authorities in the same year. During 2013 12 homeless deaths were recorded – the same as London’s Tower Hamlets and just four fewer than Birmingham, Britain’s largest public authority.

In 2013 Bournemouth had an estimated 8.6 deaths per 100,00 population which dropped to 4.7 deaths overall per 100,000 population over the five years to 2017.

By contrast, from 2013-2017 Poole had just one recorded homeless death, in 2016, and Christchurch had two.

In 2017, however, it is estimated that nine homeless people died in Bournemouth.

This is the first time numbers showing the number of homeless deaths have been laid bare by the Office for National Statistics. Even now the ONS warns: “The figures reported here are the total estimated numbers. The method used provides a robust but conservative estimate, so the real numbers may still be higher.”

It also warns that due to the difficulties of calculating these deaths, ‘rates calculated where there are fewer than 20 deaths need to be treated with caution as they are potentially unreliable’.

The statistics did show that an estimated 597 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2017.

The news will make grim reading for the Borough of Bournemouth which came under national scrutiny in January 2018, when rough sleeper Kevin Fillsell was found dead under the flyover at the town’s Braidley Road car-park.

Public and council reaction to the tragedy lead to a campaign against the town’s ‘anti-homeless measures’ by rapper Professor Green and the internationally renowned Bournemouth artist, Stuart Semple, and resulted in the council having to remove metal anti-sleeping bars on benches in the middle of the night.

Since then the town has mourned the death of homeless man Carl Lancelot, in December 2018, to whom a shrine has been erected on Horseshoe Common.

Deputy Director of Housing at Bournemouth Borough Council, Lorraine Mealings, said: "Based on death registration data, the published figures for Bournemouth show a spike of 10 homeless deaths during 2013, four deaths in 2014, six deaths in 2015, one death in 2016 and seven deaths in 2017.

"Sadly, the spike in numbers for both 2013 and 2017 were due to a particularly lethal supply of heroin available locally at those times. This led to several drug related deaths happening in quick succession.

"Urgent joint work was undertaken by the council and police at those times to address the issues and prevent any further deaths. Life-saving drugs are now readily available locally for use by opiate users and their families to help prevent such deaths in these instances. We would encourage all opiate users locally to pick up their free kits from the ‘Addaction’ charity.

"Sadly, there are inherent risks that come with rough sleeping and drug misuse. The Crisis charity reports that the average age of death of someone rough sleeping in England is only 47 years old. There is much work underway in Bournemouth to prevent homelessness, and particularly to help prevent rough sleeping as the most severe form of homelessness.’’