by Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent, (07 Feb 2006)
Mirror United Kingdom
LABOUR was yesterday accused of losing the drugs war after new figures showed around 1,300 people a year were dying from overdoses.
Statistics reveal just under 13,000 people were killed by "drug-related poisoning involving illegal substances" in England and Wales between 1994 and 2003.
In 2003, the last year for which figures are available, 1,294 junkies died - meaning Government measures are doing little.
Figures peaked in 2000 when 1,571 druggies lost their lives, while the lowest of 936 came in 1994 when the Tories were in power.
Tory MP Humfrey Malins said the statistics were the tip of an iceberg.
He added: "These shocking figures relate only to deaths where drugs are named on the death certificate. In reality, drug-users often die from various related causes - such as catching pneumonia or having accidents.
"I'm sure there are many thousands more whose lives have been cut short by drugs."
He added: "Illegal drugs really are the scourge of our age and the Government is simply failing to grasp the problem.
"As a district judge, as well as an MP, I see drug-users all the time and know the impact they have on crime levels.
"I would say that between 30 and 50 per cent of all those before me for acquisitive crimes such as shoplifting are offending in order to feed their drug habits."
Drug use is also behind as much as three per cent of fatal road accidents, revealed Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman.