Norman Lamb writes: Tackling gun and knife crime – hospitals and police working together

nhs sign lrgTrying to make different departments work effectively with each other is a challenge that all Governments face, and this one is no different. It could be all too easy for objectives that fall between two departments to end up falling through the cracks.

That is why I am pleased to report on the efforts we are taking in the Department of Health to roll out the ‘Cardiff model’. This is a very simple measure that can have a dramatic impact on knife crime in an area.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto included a commitment to “make hospitals share non-confidential information with the police so they know where gun and knife crime is happening and can target stop-and-search in gun and knife crime hot spots”. This is something that we are now delivering in Government.

After the police, the NHS is the public service most likely to come into contact with victims of violent crime. Many victims of assault go to A&E but never report the incident to police. By sharing information such as the time and place of an assault or the type of attack with the local police, hospitals can enable them to spot patterns developing. Crucially, this in turn allows them to target resources effectively. In Cardiff, where the scheme was pioneered, violent crime fell by 40% over four years.

The previous government made no effort to collect information about how many hospitals were actually cooperating with local police forces in this way. We have changed that. A report published last week showed that almost 75% of areas in England have started to put data-sharing systems in place. However, only a third of areas are doing this effectively, and a fifth are not doing it at all.

Public health minister Anna Soubry has written to health chiefs across the country about this. We know the Cardiff model works. Now we need to ensure every community sees the benefit.

If you are interested, more information – including resources for NHS professionals and Community Safety Partnerships – is available online here.

* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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