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'Knife crackdown could deter victims seeking treatment', warn nurses

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Nurses have warned of the dangers of sharing information about knife crime with the police at the RCN Congress.

Under the Home Office’s Tackling Knives Action Programme, launched last June, hospital accident and emergency departments collect anonymous information on knives, which police forces use to produce a map of danger areas.

Police can bring in preventative measures, such as introducing plastic glasses in pubs, changing pub, bar and club opening times, targeted street patrols and CCTV cameras. Pilot schemes in Cardiff suggest the scheme has led to a 40% reduction in knife crime.

Mike Hayward, who used to be a policeman before becoming a nurse, told the conference that while he supported sharing information with police, this could mean that victims might not attend hospital because of fears of being reported.

The delegate from the Croydon branch warned: ‘Will this policy stop young gang members seeking medical assistance when stabbed for fear of being arrested or breaching their street code of honour? Will this result in more young deaths rather than saving them?’

He had seen his hospital in London ‘besieged by 50 young people whose behaviour is aggressive and difficult’ after a stabbing.

Kathleen McHale, from the RCN’s Islington branch, told delegates her son had been stabbed as he walked along their quiet residential street.

She said: ‘It was devastating for our family life. Every day in the papers when I see that someone has been knifed or a mother has lost a son I know that the devastation that that family feels will remain.’

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