The Department of Health is surveying A&E departments to find out whether staff are recording information on violent assaults and sharing it with the police and other organisations.
The mandatory audit of all hospital trusts is part of a coalition government commitment to ensure anonymised data on violence – such as knife attacks and gang assaults – is being shared to help reduce crime locally.
The pledge featured in recent strategies on alcohol and violence, including a cross-government report on ending gang and youth violence published in the wake of the summer riots last year.
This highlighted the crucial role of a range of professionals, including health visitors, school nurses and hospital nurses in identifying young people at risk and ensuring they received further help.
As a minimum, A&E departments are expected to gather and share information about the date, time and location of assaults and the weapon used, under guidelines drawn up by the College of Emergency Medicine.
The data is supposed to be shared with organisations involved in local community safety partnerships, which include primary care trusts, councils and the police.
The DH said the audit would reveal the extent to which data sharing had become standard practice in A&Es and help inform further work to promote the sharing of information.
It has also said it will look into the possibly of including A&E data on “local crime maps” and explore the idea of placing youth workers in A&E departments – an approach already being tested in London at King’s College and St Thomas’s hospitals.
- An estimated 307,998 people were admitted to accident and emergency units for violence-related injuries last year, 10,879 fewer than in 2010, according to a Cardiff University survey of 42 minor injury and A&E units in England and Wales.