The shocking extent of the homeless problem in London and nearby area has been laid bare by a new study.

Almost 600 homeless people died in England and Wales last year according to the Office for National Statistics, a rise of 24 per cent from 2013 to 2017.

Of those who died 84 per cent were men, with more than half succumbing to drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide.

The worst hit borough in London was Camden, where 73 people died on the streets between 2013 and 2017.

The study also estimated the number of people who may have died but not been identified, with the total death count in Camden rising to 89.

Most other boroughs were mercifully in the low single digits for yearly deaths, with Barnet recording six across the period, Harrow four, Redbridge seven, Enfield six and Waltham Forest 12.

Three homeless people died in Epping Forest during the five year period, with no deaths recorded since 2015.

Thirteen homeless people died in Watford and one died in St Albans.

Polly Neate, chief executive of the homeless charity Shelter, said the figures should be a “wake-up call”.

“There is nothing inevitable about people dying homeless, it is a direct consequence of a broken housing system,” she said.

“When more and more people have no choice but to sleep on the street, we see the absolute sharpest end of the housing emergency.

"Unstable and expensive private renting, welfare cuts and a severe lack of social housing are fundamentally at the root of this crisis."

Perhaps most alarmingly the most deprived areas of the country were significantly more likely to have high rates of homeless deaths.

In the 10 per cent most deprived local areas the rate of deaths was 9.2 times higher than that of the least deprived 10 per cent.

Across the country the ONS figures show that there were 482 deaths among homeless people in 2013, rising to 597 in 2017.

Overall, an estimated 2,627 homeless people died during the five year period.