For far too long the debate about knife crime has turned almost exclusively around one issue – whether we should remove powers from judges in setting sentences for people found carrying a knife.
Boris Johnson has even decided to jump on the bandwagon in an attempt to get a cheap headline and joined those claiming that removing the discretion of judges in making individual sentencing decisions is the only way to make our communities safer.
In the meantime real steps that can be taken to tackle knife crime and other violent offences have been overlooked. There is very clear evidence that the adoption of the ‘’Cardiff Model” is effective in tackling violent crime.
The collection and sharing of anonymous data about knife and other violent offences with the police and local councils enables real steps to be taken to tackle violent hotspots.
And the Cardiff Model covers more than just tackling knife offences.
For example if a pub has a record of violent offences taking place on its premises the Cardiff Model ensures that more rigorous assessment is made of a pub licence.
Alternatively, if there is a spate of adults and children facing dog bites in a local park the first place to find out is often the local A&E department.
When Boris Johnson stood for re-election in 2012 his crime manifesto specifically stated he advocated the full adoption of the Cardiff Model in every part of London.
Yet at present it seems that 13 hospital trusts in London are not sharing any data about violent offences.
There are some incredibly weak excuses made for the adoption of the Cardiff Model. For example there is a myth that personal data about patients is breached. This is simply not the case.
The collected and shared data is fully anonymous. Another excuse is that asking A&E staff to collect information about the time and location of a violent incident is an imposition on staff that are already overstretched.
Reception staff at any A&E department are of course incredibly busy, but if given adequate support and training the routine collection of data about the time and location of violent offences is possible.
Moreover because the Cardiff Model leads to a reduction in violent crime the collection of information leads to less demands on an A&E department. Far from being an imposition on hospital staff the Cardiff Model actually reduces pressures on A&E departments.
For far too long the Mayor of London has not taken a lead on this issue and sadly London is actually experiencing an increase in violent offences.
The good news is that just this week at Mayor’s Question Time the Mayor was surprisingly frank and admitted that the adoption of the Cardiff Model has been very patchy.
After questioning him he has now pledged to write to all hospital trusts to encourage its full adoption across the capital. He has also claimed he will call a summit at City Hall if necessary.
Finally, it seems the Mayor of London (who was elected as London’s Police Commissioner) is waking up to the fact that he can actually take real steps to tackle violent crime. His actions are as welcome as they are overdue.
Caroline Pidgeon is leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly group and Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee.