SHETLAND suffers more deaths from illegal drugs than Orkney and the Western Isles combined.
In the 12 years between 1996 and 2007 there have been nine deaths locally compared with just one in Orkney and six in the Western Isles.
Last year’s toll of two drug deaths in Shetland both involved heroin/methadone but in one of the cases alcohol was a contributory factor too. In Scotland as a whole there was a record 455 drug deaths last year.
Local police uncovered a higher rate of drug offences in Shetland per head of population during 2007/08 than not just the forces in Orkney and the Western Isles but those in more urban areas of the Central Belt like Falkirk, Fife, east, west and Midlothian.
The Shetland rate of 569 offences per 100,000 people dwarfed Orkney’s rate of 101, which was by far the lowest of any council area in Scotland. The Western Isles was not far behind Shetland on 532 per 100,000 people.
Despite the high level in Shetland it remained a far cry from drug-ridden Glasgow City which had a rate of 1,527.
Shetland was one of only two NHS board areas in Scotland to see a drop in methadone prescriptions given out during 2007/08, falling from 41 per 1,000 people to 33. In total 5,946 doses of methadone were dispensed during the year.
Different areas operate very different policies for treating drug addicts and only 335 methadone prescriptions were given out in Orkney during the year and a mere six in the Western Isles.
The statistics are detailed in the newly published NHS report Drug Misuse Statistics Scotland 2008.