Development, utilisation, and importance of accident and emergency department derived assault data in violence management

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Abstract

Objectives:

To develop formal processes for the collection, disclosure, and effective use of accident and emergency (A&E) department derived assault injury data for city violence reduction.

Methods:

Over a four year period, managed by a multi-agency steering group, A&E data collection, collation, and disclosure processes were developed, instituted, and refined. Consultations and negotiations between agencies identified the most effective and ethical methods, appropriate recipients, and the nature of the information of most use.

Results:

Disclosure of A&E data to city authorities, the police, and local media drew substantial attention and crime prevention resources to the locations of violence. As a result, a police task force responsible for targeting city street crime was funded, which analysed both A&E and police information. Monthly, electronic transfer of raw, anonymous data to the task force crime analyst informed and prompted violence prevention initiatives by several agencies. Police mounted overt and covert interventions targeted at violence hotspot licensed premises and used the data to oppose, on injury grounds, drinks/entertainment licence applications. Transport authorities established new half hourly night time city centre bus services. The local authority mounted an assault awareness campaign in schools and public libraries, and licensing magistrates used the data to measure, for example, the impact of continuous 36 hour drinks licensing on public safety.

Conclusions:

The principal finding of this evaluation was that judicious sharing of unique information about locations and times of violence derived from A&E patients was a powerful and effective means of targeting police and other local resource to bring about violence reduction.

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