Authorities have issued warnings to the public after seven unexplained deaths in the Stirling area.
The victims, all men aged between 20 and 50, all died in council owned properties, with two of the men dying in council housing, and four in homeless accommodation.
Four of the deaths are being treated as possibly drug related, but have not been linked to any one substance.
Lorna Cameron, the council’s Chief Housing Officer confirmed the deaths in various council accommodation.
Forth Valley Police Division have reported the seven deaths to the Procurator Fiscal Service since March 1 and are investigating a whether the deaths are drug related, but have not confirmed any cause of death until the coroner provides a medical confirmation.
Media outlets have drawn attention to “street Valium” as a possible cause but authorities have not confirmed these statements by the press.
Chief Inspector Gill Marshall, Local Area Commander for Stirling said:
“Officers in Forth Valley continue to investigate a number of unexplained deaths in the Stirling area this month, however, until we receive medical confirmation, we are unable to comment on what the causes of death are. Deaths where drugs are considered a contributing factor are always thoroughly investigated.
“We work jointly with our partners, including the NHS, Scottish Government, education, and Alcohol and Drug Partnerships across Forth Valley to tackle the issue of drug misuse, seeking to prevent the harm drugs can have on families and communities.
“Together with our continued enforcement activity, the public can assist us in reducing the harm drugs cause by reporting any concerns, or information, on drug misuse to us through the 101 service, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Stirling Council has established a multi-agency steering group made up of the NHS, Police Scotland and other third sector organisations who will look into the deaths.
A council spokesperson said:
“In response to this worrying development, a range of support measures have been put in place for vulnerable individuals and frontline staff.
“A multi-agency steering group, which includes Police Scotland, the NHS and third sector organisations, has also been set up to urgently look into this matter and to ensure we reach out to vulnerable groups in the wider community.”
They also issued warnings to drug users in the community.
“However, the council would urge those using drugs to engage with addiction support services and recognise the risks involved.”
NHS Forth Valley have said that they are part of discussions which plan to prevent future deaths.
Police and other agencies have already been reaching out to vulnerable people and addicts in the community to warn them about the situation.
Despite these actions the council and police still came under criticism from Bannockburn councillor Alasdair MacPherson, who questioned if notifying the public earlier would have prevented deaths.
“My thoughts are with the families and loved ones who have tragically died in council-owned properties.
“Given that these deaths go back weeks and that they may drug-related, I think it’s reasonable to ask if the police had highlighted these earlier could the most recent deaths have been prevented?”
The police and Stirling Council will update the public with any relevant information surrounding the deaths throughout the course of their investigation.