Drug deaths across Greater Manchester have increased over the last decade as number of seizures have halved.

There were 239 deaths registered across the area last year, with 22 in Bolton.

The figure is the second highest in the country, with those registered in Outer London topping the chart at 259.

Rates have risen from 232 in 2009, hitting their highest point this year.

It comes as illegal substances worth millions of pounds were captured by police in 5,351 incidents in 2018, half the 10,801 seizures from 2009.

But police say they are ‘committed’ to taking drugs off the streets and last year’s figures for drug seizures were up 36 per cent from 2016, the lowest year with figures showing 3,948 seizures made.

Kate Hall, head of operations for the GMMH Substance Misuse Division said “There is always more that can be done in relation to tackling drug-related deaths and we work hard to reduce drug use in general in our communities and ensure people have access to the appropriate treatment and harm reduction services.

“We work closely with our partner providers and other services across the NHS and voluntary sectors, to share best practice on identifying those people most at risk and the evidence-based interventions that can be applied to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths.

“People living with addiction can be in a very vulnerable situation, but we are here for those who are concerned about their own alcohol or drug use, or that of a loved one; and to help keep people safe and supported to have a future free from addiction.”

Last year, 19 patients in substance abuse treatment services died.

Dr Tracey Myton, consultant in addiction psychiatry for GMMH said: “It is, of course, important to reduce the illicit drugs available, however alcohol also causes lots of physical, psychological and social difficulties and is legal – tackling the inequalities which result is drug and alcohol use is just as important.

"We have a high number of patients in treatment and our patient population is ageing, so we do have deaths amongst our patients, few of which are simply attributable to drug or alcohol use.

"More commonly there is co-existing poor physical health or mental illness.

“These deaths affect us all – the family and friends of the person who has passed away and the staff working in the service, as well as our other patients who may have had connections with the deceased.

“We expect to see more referrals in January and welcome the opportunity to help people make changes to their drug or alcohol use, health and well-being.”

Last year's figures for drug seizures were up 36% from 2016, the lowest year figures with only 3,948.

Among the drugs collected by officers in 2018 was 35kg of cocaine, 16kg of Heroin, and 311kg of herbal cannabis, worth over £4m.

An additional 187,000 doses of Benzodiazepine, 31,308 cannabis plants, and 19,000 doses of anabolic steroids were also recovered.

Detective Inspector Lee Griffin of the Serious and Organised Crime Group said: “These figures highlight the committed work from GMP officers in taking drugs off the streets of Greater Manchester.

“There are many reasons for our current success, but one at the forefront is the way we link street-level crime to organised crime groups (OCG’s).

“When we arrest a street dealer they are not dealt with in isolation. Instead we use a range of mapping techniques to make those links to OCGs because they are the people we really need to target.

“By taking these drugs off the streets we have increased the level of public safety by not only reducing the number of people exposed to the drugs themselves but the resulting criminal activity.

“Drugs feature across many different types of crime, from burglary and antisocial behaviour to criminal exploitation and modern day slavery. It is a priority therefore for us to work closely with partners to disrupt the drugs market through enforcement, early intervention and diversion.

“GMP relies on information from members of the public to effectively tackle this area of criminality, so if you have information that might help us please come forward.”

To report any illegal drug use contact GMP on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.