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Cardiff Professor shortlisted in inaugural St David Awards

17 January 2014

Professor Jonathan Shepherd
Professor Jonathan Shepherd

Professor Jonathan Shepherd from the School of Dentistry and leader of the University's Violence and Society Research Group (VSRG) has been shortlisted for the inaugural St David Awards.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones announced the finalists for the awards which honour inspirational people doing exceptional things and making a real difference to the quality of life in Wales. The awards also recognise the contribution of individuals who improve social and economic wellbeing.

Professor Shepherd's nomination is in the Innovation and Technology category - intended for an individual, group or research team in Wales which has developed techniques or solutions that meet new requirements and provided more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are available to society at large.

Research by the VSRG discovered that 65% of community violence resulting in injury and NHS hospital treatment was not recorded by the police.

From these early investigations Professor Shepherd and colleagues concluded that there was a lack of any real framework to institute appropriate joint working between the police and Emergency Unit staff, although the studies affirmed the substantial and unique information resource (precise violence location, date/time, circumstance, weapons) that Emergency Units represented.

As a result, Professor Shepherd established a Cardiff based multi-agency violence prevention group made up of representatives of the local police, council, health authority, Cardiff University academics and third sector organisation Victim Support.

This prototype partnership, now a legal requirement in all areas of Britain as a result of the Crime and Disorder Act, has led the way in developing a new approach to identifying violence hotspots and reducing incidents of violence. This is achieved through the better targeting of resources to deal more effectively with violence hotspots, using violence injury data to inform magistrates on public safety issues around drinks and entertainment licence applications and the co-ordination of public transport to relieve pressures contributing to city-centre violence, amongst others.

Since the model was implemented in Cardiff overall A&E violence related attendances have halved and hospital admissions and serious violence recorded by the police have fallen by 42% and 32% respectively relative to cities where this model has not been implemented. This success has encouraged international adoption in addition to the UK Coalition Government national commitment to implement the approach UK-wide and the model has been implemented in more than 100 hospitals across England and Wales.

The impact of this is also reflected in the recently published UK Peace Index (2003-2012), which concluded that Wales is the most peaceful of the UK nations and, furthermore, the South Wales urban area is the safest among 10 selected UK urban areas.

Further afield the model is set to be implemented in the Dutch capital Amsterdam as well as other projects underway in the United States and South Africa.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd said of his award nomination: "This nomination is really encouraging and reflects not just our work but the work of the agencies in Wales, particularly the police service, local authorities and public health who have taken on the model and implemented it."

The winners will be announced at the St David Awards Ceremony and dinner on Thursday 13th March.