Homeless deaths could soon be officially recorded for the first time in Scotland.
The National Records of Scotland is in discussions with counterparts in England and Wales, who last year started producing figures for those who died while homeless.
The NRS said: “The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has developed a method to estimate the number of homeless deaths in England and Wales, using data from a range of sources including death certificates.
“NRS has been in contact with ONS with the aim of producing comparable estimates of deaths of homeless people in Scotland.
“At present, the homeless status of people who die in Scotland, England and Wales isn’t recorded on death certificates. This means it isn’t possible to identify instances where a deceased person was homeless.”
The ONS began recording homeless deaths after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism discovered 800 homeless people died on the UK’s streets between October 2017 and March this year – with 134 of these in Scotland.
Director of Shelter Scotland Graeme Brown said: “Behind these statistics are individual people who died in desperately sad circumstances.
“Shelter Scotland believes every one of these deaths should be reviewed to identify systemic issues that may be contributing to this tragic loss of life.”
He added: “Scotland is in the grip of a housing emergency with 100 households making homelessness applications every day.”
The news comes as an Edinburgh Fringe play produced by homeless theatre company Cardboard Citizens tries to raise awareness of homeless deaths in the UK.
Written and directed by founder Adrian Jackson, Bystanders tells the true stories of life and death on the streets and features a cast with personal experience of homelessness.
“We want to humanise these statistics, to show these are people just like us,” said Adrian.
Adrian set up the company in 1991, in the cardboard city at the Bullring in London.
Alongside the Bystanders theatre show, Cardboard Citizens has launched the campaign Citizens Do, supported by Crisis, Shelter Scotland, Cyrenians and the Museum of Homelessness. It challenges Fringe audiences to do three daily actions, from buying a homeless person a cup of tea to signing a petition to call for the creation of a formal, unified approach to recording homeless deaths in Scotland.
Sign up to Citizens Do at cardboardcitizens.org.uk/CitizensDo. Bystanders, Summerhall (Tech Cube 0), until August 25
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