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US adopts UK anti-violence system

16 November 2018

Jonathan Shepherd
Professor Jonathan Shepherd

A UK system for tackling violence has been adopted as policy in the United States.

The Cardiff Model for Violence Prevention, pioneered by Professor Jonathan Shepherd, has been primed for roll out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The model brings agencies together to prevent violence using data collected in emergency departments (EDs) as well as police intelligence.  

Prevention has been hampered because more than half of violent crime in the United States is not reported to law enforcers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

By using data from EDs, the model reveals violence hotspots which are invisible to police - places where policing should be concentrated.

Now the CDC, which works to protect America from health, safety and security threats, has produced a website and toolkit to help agencies implement the model across the nation.

Professor Shepherd, of Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute, said: "Formal federal endorsement by the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention is a major milestone in the history of the Cardiff Model. For communities across the United States faced with the human tragedies and heavy costs of violence, this tried and tested approach holds great promise. Implementation is certain to generate further lessons on how the Model should be used, and will help jurisdictions elsewhere to benefit."

The Cardiff Model has proved so accurate in detecting hotspots that it recently helped the UK’s Metropolitan Police discover a previously unknown ‘crack house’ in London.

The CDC toolkit features a range of materials to help health professionals and agencies set up joint ‘Cardiff Model’ projects. It includes guidance for hospitals and law enforcement bodies, plus advice on legal issues, finance and how to build successful partnerships.

Introducing the toolkit, James A. Mercy, PhD, Director, Division of Violence Prevention at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, says: “The Cardiff Violence Prevention Model provides a way for communities to gain a clearer picture about where violence is occurring by combining and mapping both hospital and police data on violence.

“It is more than just an approach to map and understand violence: the Cardiff Model provides a straightforward framework for hospitals, law enforcement agencies, public health agencies, community groups, and others interested in violence prevention to work together and develop collaborative violence prevention strategies.”

Using the Cardiff Model, law enforcement agencies and area hospitals form a community safety partnership to share interview data from people injured by violence. This information includes:

  • When the injury occurred (date and time)
  • Where the injury took place (business name and/or street address)
  • How the injury happened and/or weapon used (e.g. hit, stabbed with a knife)

In the foreword to the toolkit, Dr Mercy adds: “The Cardiff Model is a promising solution to prevent violence. We encourage you to use these materials to create a broad partnership to prevent violence in your community.”

Established in 1997, the Cardiff Model has been adopted worldwide.

In the US, the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, which helps local agencies, recently awarded $1m to a Wisconsin project implementing the Cardiff Model.

The money will help to set up data sharing between law enforcement agencies, public health bodies, hospitals and treatment centres in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopted Professor Shepherd’s model following an evaluation that compared violence outcomes in Cardiff to the experience in 14 similar cities.

The results showed a 32% reduction in police-recorded injuries (comparable to aggravated assaults in the U.S.) and a 42% reduction in hospital admissions for violence-related injuries, saving over £19 in criminal justice costs and nearly £15 in health system costs for every £1 spent.

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