A cosmetic surgeon based in Cardiff encountered many victims of knife crime as part of his work. During consultations with his patients he soon became aware that he a goldmine of information on the precise locations of the violence, the times of the days when stabbings occurred, the locations, the type of weapons used and the assailants. He started sharing this information with the police and his local authority. The data was made anonymous so that patient confidentiality could be maintained.
The information enabled the police to target hotspots and put more manpower on the right streets at the right time of day. The results were dramatic. Knife crime was cut by over 40% and Cardiff moved from a mid-table mediocrity in tackling violence to the safest city in its Home Office family of 15 similar cities.
The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman raised a question in Parliament on how many other local authorities had implemented similar schemes. The response was 'not known, since no-one was collecting this information centrally'. A subsequent FOI request to every acute hospital trust revealed that out of 150 hospital trusts with emergency departments, only 20% were working with their local police force in providing Cardiff-style data.
The Cardiff model, which began in 2002, is still relatively unknown to other local authorities and hospital trusts, though it has been published in the Emergency Medical Journal and The Surgeon