Almost four out of five NHS hospitals are failing to collect and share data with police and local authorities that could help to reduce violent crime.

Figures obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act requests by the Liberal Democrats show that of 123 acute trusts that responded, only 25 were collecting details relating to violent crime and passing them to other authorities.

Only ten out of the 58 trusts in parts of England covered by the government’s Tackling Knives Action Programme were collecting the data.

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “If the police are to catch more knife carriers, they need to intensively patrol knife crime hot-spots. They are best identified from anonymous hospital data, which is free from the meddling hand of Whitehall.”

The method of collecting crime data from hospital A&E data was pioneered by staff in Cardiff in 2002 and has become known as the ‘Cardiff Model’.

It involves collecting anonymous data from A&E wards about the locations and times of violent incidents and sharing the data with the police. The Cardiff Model is said to have had helped cut violence related attendances at the hospital by 40%.

Huhne commented: “Ever since the Cardiff Model was explained to me I have been an ardent advocate of extending it to as many emergency departments and local police forces as possible. Implementation of the Cardiff Model has been scandalously slow despite its proven benefits.”

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Department of Health to ensure that the Cardiff Model is used in every A&E in the country.

The General Medical Council has already said in interim guidance on the reporting of knife crime that “police should be told whenever a person arrives at hospital with a wound inflicted in a violent attack with a knife, blade or other sharp instrument.”

But the Department of Health said it has not yet asked all hospitals to report and has only asked the worst affected hospitals to do so.

A DH spokesperson said: "We are initially working with 17 key hospitals – those that we expect to be most involved in dealing with a high incidence of knife crime – to gather detailed information.

“We have had 14 responses so far. Of the 14, ten are presently sharing information and three are likely to commence very soon. This picture is an encouraging one, in that many of the key hospitals, which six months ago were not sharing data, now are.”

Link: General Medical Council