Surgeons call for identity of knife crime victims to be shared with policeBMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c6579 (Published 16 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6579
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I read with interest the News article regarding knife crime in the UK
from Andrew Cole. I think it is very important to clarify that although we
know that violent behaviour is undoubtedly linked to alcohol in the UK,
knife and gun crime in the young is, on the contrary, associated with the
gang culture. In my little experience, none of the gun/knife trauma that I
treated were associated with excess alcohol. Most were rivalry or drug
related violence. It is important to make the distinction between
alcohol/saturday night violence and gang behaviour as both will be dealt
in terms of prevention in a very different manner. It would be generally
wrong to associate these behaviour with alcohol excess.
Competing interests: No competing interests
We read with interest the joint conference statement from the
Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and the Metropolitan
We are concerned by the proposals that patient
identifiable data about stabbing victims should be shared with the police.
There is little robust evidence that this is an effective way to reduce
knife crime. We are concerned that this will discourage victims seeking
necessary medical help, particularly adolescents and those injured during
We have guidelines on data sharing from the GMC.(2) However, the GMC guidance on sharing data about inflicted injuries from
sharp objects is, in our view, unworkable. We are advised to inform the
police promptly when a stabbing victim presents to an
emergency department, so that the police arrive promptly. However, we are
then advised to respect the patient's wishes for confidentiality and not
disclose the identity of the patient without consent. Consent is not
usually granted to disclose. The police then become frustrated after
arrival at the emergency department. Perceptions of the injuries caused by
stabbings can be distorted, data from the Trauma Audit and Research
Network shows that less than 25% of stab victims presenting to an
emergency department require hospital admission, let alone an operation.
The College of Emergency Medicine has long supported the use of
sharing anonymised data with Community Safety Partnerships to reduce
community violence.(3) We believe that this is a more effective way to
reduce community violence.
1. BMJ 2010 341:c6579; doi:10.1136/bmj.c6579
2. Confidentiality: reporting gubshot and knife wounds http://www.gmc-
3. Information Sharing to Prevent Community Violence
Competing interests: AB is the lead author for the College of Emergency Medicine guideline on Information Sharing to reduce community violence.