Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland rose by 10% last year, reaching the highest level for six years.

New figures from the National Records of Scotland show there were 1,265 deaths in 2016, up 115 from 1,150 in 2015.

The number represents the highest total since 2010, when 1,318 alcohol-related deaths were recorded, and is the third largest annual increase behind an 18% surge in 1996 and an 11% rise in 1999.

Loading article content

Men accounted for 867 deaths and females 398.

The age group with the highest number of deaths, at 503, was 45-59, while a further 468 deaths occurred in the 60-74 age group.

The rise prompted fresh calls for a "bold" alcohol strategy, and support for minimum unit pricing.

The pricing policy is currently being challenged in the courts, with the Supreme Court in London assessing the Scotch Whisky Association's latest appeal.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Behind these appalling statistics are real people - sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parents, friends and colleagues - who have died too young because of a substance that's cheap, widely available and constantly promoted.

"Alcohol-related deaths are preventable. Increasing the price of the cheapest, strongest drinks through minimum unit pricing will reduce consumption and save hundreds of people's lives, particularly those living in our poorest communities.

"As well as minimum pricing, we need to see bold and proportionate action from the Scottish Government in its forthcoming alcohol strategy. This must focus on reducing the widespread availability and marketing of alcohol to make it easier for people to drink less."