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Sharing info on injuries from violence cut costs by £7m

Cardiff project shows huge rewards from low-cost collaboration with police

Louise Prime

Monday, 23 September 2013

A collaborative project between the health services, police and council in Cardiff cut the number of injuries sustained through violence in the city and saved vastly more than it cost to set up and run, research has shown. The analysis, published in the BMJ journal Injury Prevention, showed that annual savings totalling almost £7m were made across health, social and criminal justice services after A&E staff starting collecting and sharing additional information on violent incidents in the city.

When the Cardiff Violence Prevention Programme (CVPP) was set up in 2003, A&E staff started collecting additional information from patients presenting with violence-related injuries – including precisely where the incident took place, the time, day, and weapon used – and adding it to the existing patient management system. This took about an extra 2 minutes per patient.

These data on violent incidents, once formatted, collated and anonymised by information staff (which took about 32 hours per year overall), were then sent to a crime analyst who analysed them alongside police intelligence to produce continuously updated maps of crime hotspots.

Police and local government used the maps to develop more effective ways of preventing violent crime – such as enforcing the use of polycarbonate beer glasses after 11pm in clubs and pubs that stayed open later, repositioning CCTV cameras, changing police patrol routes and patterns, and making certain streets pedestrian-only zones on weekend nights.

Between 2003 and 2007, the number of serious woundings fell in Cardiff, although there was a rise in the recorded number of common assaults (because of more frequent police intervention).

The total set-up and running costs of the CVPP were £108,000 and £210,000 respectively – but this research showed that the CVPP saved £5m a year until 2007, when the total savings reached £6.9m including healthcare savings of £1.25m. The authors of the study calculated that, overall, the CVPP saved a total of £82 for every £1 that it cost. The benefit-cost ratio was 14.8 for the health service and 19.1 for the criminal justice system.

The study’s authors said: “[Our] study builds on a growing literature showing that violence-prevention strategies can provide a substantial return on investment, and demonstrates the benefits of multiagency information-sharing partnerships to guide violence prevention planning, policies, and activities.

“Moreover, the fact that the reduction in woundings and the benefit-cost savings were documented at the community level underscores the public health significance of the [Cardiff] model.”

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