New figures have revealed an 18 per cent increase in the number of people dying from asbestos-related cancer in the West Midlands.

Medical experts say the mesothelioma death rate is set to continue to rise, reaching its peak in 2016.

Following the release of the figures, Birmingham-based lawyer has renewed calls for justice for those struck with the disease, and for the families who have lost loved ones.

It has emerged that the male death rate per million people was 40.7, ten years ago – but that has since risen to 49.1 according to statistics for 2010.

Female deaths in the region also rose to 9.2 in 2010, up from 8.9 in 2005-2007.

Alida Coates, from Irwin Mitchell said: “It is expected that the mesothelioma death rate will continue to rise, peaking in around 2016.

“Irwin Mitchell has handled hundreds of mesothelioma cases and continues to the see the impact of asbestos on people’s lives all over the country. Each year we are seeing an increasing number of women affected by this dreadful disease.

“One of the most upsetting things is that most of the people affected by the condition were negligently exposed to asbestos by employers who knew the risks associated with the material, yet continued to put the lives of their workforce at risk.

“The difficult thing for victims and their families to come to terms with is had adequate protective equipment been provided these deaths could have been prevented.”