CALLS have been made for urgent action as new figures show at least 139 people have died while homeless in Scotland over the last year-and-a-half.

In October the Ferret reported that 94 people had died on the street, in temporary or supported homeless accommodation including hostels and bed and breakfasts. They included a 43-year-old man in the Glasgow Night Shelter, and a former veteran sleeping rough in Edinburgh.

Now freedom of information requests by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) have found a further 45 deaths logged by local authorities. They included 22 deaths in Glasgow between 1 November and 29 January, where at least four people died on the street.

Sean Clerkin of the Scottish Tenants Organisation said: "It's a scandal. There has to be a strategy to deal with this but there doesn't appear to be one.

"We need more warm secure homes and more social housing and medical services onto the streets to help homeless people."

One young homeless woman was found dead in the tent in Gallowgate in mid-January.

Emergency services were called to Watson Street following reports that a body had been discovered.

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Following the discovery, McKinnons Bar and Lounge, issued a plea on social media for help identifying the woman.

At the end of January, data revealed an “unprecedented” spike in the number of deaths of homeless people in Glasgow was linked to illegal versions of prescription tranquillisers that have flooded the market in Scotland over the past year.

Early data collected by addiction services indicated a 43% rise in the number of people who died of drugs overdoses in the city from January to October last year, compared with the same period in 2017.

There were nearly 20 deaths in council-run homeless accommodation since the beginning of December, which frontline workers believe are related to the use of these street drugs, which have emerged across the UK.

As a sign of the severity of the problem, the police, health services and the council issued a joint warning about so-called street Valium, also known as “street blues”, which is sold cheaply and in dangerously unpredictable concentrations.

The new data bring the number of deaths in Glasgow to 64, while in Edinburgh there were 28 fatalities over 18 months.

Two died in temporary homeless accommodation in Renfrewshire, one in East Ayrshire and another in Stirling.

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Minister for local government, housing and planning, Kevin Stewart said: “The avoidable death of any vulnerable person in our society is a tragedy. Preventing and ending homelessness and rough sleeping are priorities for us and we are working with partners to transform the system so people can secure a permanent home, far more quickly, with support for their health and wellbeing if they need it.

“Expert advice makes clear that just providing someone with a house will not always be enough, especially if they have complex needs such as an alcohol or drug addiction.

"Our recently published Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, in combination with other government strategies on mental health and addictions, sets out how we are acting together across public services to implement shared solutions to these complex issues.”