Study: Hospitals warn cops of troubled areas, crime drops
Hospitals know where the fights happen and the most dangerous parts of the cities and towns
By Nancy Shute
WALES, England — On Saturday night, the emergency room staff knows all too well what's coming — people showing up with a broken jaw, a knife wound or a bashed-in face, often after too many hours in a pub. Doctors at the emergency department in Cardiff, Wales, realized that many of the people who were injured in fights never reported it to the police. That realization led to a simple program that has radically reduced the toll of violence.
The hospital already had information on where and how people in the emergency room had been injured — "which bar, which club, which street, which park, which school," says Dr. Jonathan Shepherd, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Cardiff University and an author of the study.
So the hospital started sharing its information with the police, after removing names and other identifying information. With that anonymous information, authorities found they could do a much better job of targeting violence hot spots. That and other measures reduced the social and economic costs of violence in Cardiff by about $11 million in 2007, according to the study, which was published in the journal Injury Prevention.