The number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales has fallen slightly, according to the latest government figures.

The Office for National Statistics said the total number of deaths caused by drug poisoning, including the misuse of illegal substances, was 2,747 in 2010 - a 5 per cent drop on the previous year.

Within these figures, there was a smaller fall in the number of those who had died specifically from the misuse of banned drugs, with 1,784 in 2010 compared to 1,876 in 2009.

The statistics show opiates were the substances most commonly associated with drug deaths last year with 791 people dying from heroin or morphine poisoning.

Although men made up 70 per cent of drug-related deaths, the 2010 figures show a 10 per cent decrease in male fatalities and a corresponding rise of 10 per cent in female deaths.

Health minister Anne Milton said: “It is vital that we do all we can to prevent drug misuse in the first place but for those who do take drugs our Drugs Strategy sets out our ambition to do everything we can to support them to recover.”