THE North-East has seen one of the largest falls in male alcohol-related deaths in the country, according to new figures.

For the first time since 2003 the alcohol-related male death rate for the North-East fell below 20 per 100,000 of the population in 2012.

This was in line with a slight drop in the number of alcohol-related deaths across the whole of the UK.

In 2012, there were 8,367 alcohol-related deaths in the UK, 381 fewer than in 2011.

Statistics showed that the alcohol-related death rate for North-East men dropped from 21.5 per 100,000 in 2011 to 17.6 in 2012.

It meant that 255 North-East men died due to alcohol in 2012, 48 fewer than in 2011.

The female alcohol-related death rate for the North-East also dipped from 10.4 per 100,000 in 2011 to 9.8 with the number dying falling from 158 in 2011 to 150 in 2012.

In general the North of England had the most alcohol-related deaths in England while there were fewest in the South.

Sue Taylor, partnerships manager at Balance, the North-East Alcohol Office, said: “Although we welcome the fact that rates here in the North-East fell faster than the England average in the last year, we continue to have one of the biggest problems with alcohol in England.

"There’s been an astonishing leap in alcohol related deaths over the last two decades and it’s particularly alarming that our rate of alcohol related female deaths is a third higher than the England average. We must do more.

“Today’s statistics are further evidence that a minimum unit price for alcohol is necessary.”

Nationally, the harmful effects of drinking caused more than 5,000 deaths every year in England and Wales for the last decade.

The misuse of alcohol has become a serious and worsening public health problem, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It warns that alcohol results in 2.5m deaths worldwide each year.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a major cause of preventable premature death, accounting for 1.4 per cent of all deaths registered in England and Wales in 2012, the study went on.

Men aged 60 to 64 were most likely to die.

Of the UK’s four countries, only Scotland had male and female death rates in 2012 that were significantly lower than 2002.