July 16, 2008

Emergency Cases Soar in Yorkshire’s Tide of Crime

The number of assault victims needing emergency hospital treatment has soared by 30 per cent in four years - and Yorkshire is among the worst affected areas, a new report says.

The figures come as the Government was accused of making a humiliating U-turn over its plans to combat knife crime by forcing offenders to meet face to face with stabbing victims in hospital.

Two days ago the Government said those caught carrying knives might be taken to hospitals to learn about the impact of knife crime - prompting a sharp reaction from doctors.

But yesterday Home Secretary Jacqui Smith appeared to distance herself from the controversial proposal, claiming it was never the Government's intention for youths to be taken to accident and emergency wards, though doctors could be used to explain the "gruesome injuries" knives can cause.

Tory Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve accused the Government of "conjuring up policy in three days and abandoning it in three hours" and said Ministers were indulging in "gimmickry" to tackle the problem of knife crime.

The row erupted yesterday as Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans to target 110,000 families with disruptive children as part of a crackdown on knife crime, after a series of high- profile stabbings.

Up to 20,000 families could face eviction from their homes if they failed to control their offspring, Mr Brown said.

Young people who carry knives were also threatened with being forced to spend Friday and Saturday nights carrying out hundreds of hours of community punishment.

The latest crackdown was announced as police in Yorkshire investigated two more violent assaults. A 44-year-old man was in critical condition at Hull Royal Infirmary last night after suffering serious head injuries in a street attack in Norton, near Malton, on Saturday.

Police in West Yorkshire are investigating a second stabbing attack in the space of less than a year on a young father in Rothwell, last week. Decorator Peter McLeod received injuries to his arms and chest when he was assaulted at work.

A new study has found the number of victims seriously hurt in violent crime in Yorkshire is increasing and is among the highest in the country.

Only the North East and North West had higher rates of patients needing emergency treatment because of violence, the research has shown.

It also reveals people living in the poorest parts of the country

were more than six times as likely to become victims of violence as those living in the most affluent areas.

Men were almost six times more likely to be victims than women, with most cases occurring in the 15 to 29 age group.

The research, which is published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, compares emergency hospital admissions from 2002 to 2006

It has been carried out by Liverpool John Moores University's Centre for Public Health and the North West Public Health Observatory.

Report author Prof Mark Bellis said: "The first thing to note is that the link between deprivation and violence is established so early on.

"People who are exposed to violence in youth are much more likely to be perpetrators of violence and victims of violence later on in life."

The researchers found that between 2002 and 2006 the number of children who were taken to hospital after an assault rose by a fifth, or a quarter in the most deprived areas of the country.

In the 15 to 44 age group, emergency hospital admissions after assaults were up 30 per cent.

Prof Bellis said early interventions were needed to break the cycle of violence.

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