Cover: Using ambulance data to inform violence prevention

Using ambulance data to inform violence prevention

A guide for police, public health and violence prevention partnerships

Published Dec 15, 2017

by Alex Sutherland, Lucy Strang, Martin Stepanek, Chris Giacomantonio

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Research Questions

  1. Why use ambulance data for violence prevention activities?
  2. How can police forces build and maintain data sharing partnerships?
  3. How might ambulance data be used for injury surveillance or crime prevention?

The use of ambulance data for crime reduction is a form of injury surveillance. Under this practice, data for assault-based injuries is shared with the police and Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) to help them identify where violent crime is taking place, which in turn allows police to target their resources to reduce violent offending.

Emergency Department (ED) data have been shown to help police identify violent crime that goes unreported to police, and aid in problem-solving activities that have demonstrably reduced violence. Ambulance data are a parallel data source that can also be used to the same ends, but its utility has not been explored to the same extent as ED data.

This guidance is aimed at those interested in violence reduction and who do not currently use ambulance data, or wish to extend their current use of ambulance data. It is based on the knowledge of practitioners who are currently involved in sharing ambulance data, research into the uses of these data in the UK and internationally and expert opinion. It identifies a number of potential uses of ambulance data as well as common issues associated with the sharing and use of this information.

Key Findings

  • Ambulance data are a source of intelligence for injury surveillance that may be effective in supporting violence-reduction initiatives.
  • Once data sharing partnership has been established, the data then need to be used to identify areas for intervention and support the police in reducing violence. This requires not only good analysis of the data but also an understanding among relevant partners about how the data can be used and interpreted.
  • Many of the suggested violence reduction interventions related to these uses have not been empirically tested to know if they are effective. Therefore, uses of ambulance data should be approached as potentially good practice rather than as proven best practice.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Europe.

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