Venue: Medway Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
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10:00 - 10:45
(1) The Chairman welcomed Dr Allison Duggal and Ms Jessica Mookherjee to the meeting. Dr Duggal was the Deputy Director of Public Health for KCC whose remit included place-based health care (mainly in new towns), the quality of public health, emergency planning and domestic abuse.
(2) Ms Mookherjee was a public health consultant whose work on substance abuse included the development of Drugs and Alcohol Strategy with the Police. She also worked on STP Groups such as Mental Health, the development of the Suicide Strategy, Health Equalities and represented KCC on the Kent Crime Partnership.
(3) Dr Duggal tabled a report from the Kent Public Health Observatory entitled “Assault by Sharp Object”. This report can be found in the agenda papers on the KCC website. It covered the period from April 2014 to November 2018 and provided a summary of the volume and nature of admissions to acute hospitals where a cause of injury had been identified by “assault by a sharp object.”
(4) Dr Duggal explained that the figures within the report omitted those who had died before they could be admitted as well as minor injuries. The sharp object could be a knife but might also be glass or a needle.
(5) Dr Duggal went on to highlight the main themes identified in the report. There had been approximately six admissions to hospital every month of victims of assault during the period covered. The majority of victims were under the age of 35 with the greatest number aged between 20 and 24. The greatest number of admissions occurred amongst people who lived in the Gravesham local authority area. High rates also occurred in the local authority areas of Dartford, Swale, Thanet and Shepway. The total number of admissions was 324 (including some admitted on more than one occasion. Some 86% were males.
(6) Ms Mookherjee said that many stabbing incidents would not be reported, especially by young people. There was a link between knife crime, mental health and drugs and alcohol. Another major contributor was Kent’s proximity to London, which made it susceptible to the “County lines” practice where drug dealers exploited vulnerable people to traffic drugs into rural areas. The same problem occurred in Essex and Norfolk. The fact that young vulnerable people were being groomed into County lines demonstrated that perpetrators could simultaneously be victims.
(7) Ms Mookherjee moved on to explain that Studies by the University of Kent and by the psychologists Martin Daly and Margi Wilson had established reasons that caused people to carry knives. People who had experienced knife crime were more likely to carry knives themselves. There was also a link between health inequalities and homicide. Growing up in a concentrated area of poverty often led to drug taking, fighting and, on occasions, killing. The solution lay in community activism, engagement and empowerment.
(8) Dr Duggal then outlined the Public Health approach to reducing violence. She said it involved using data to establish an in-depth understanding of the nature and ... view the full minutes text for item 1.