To help us understand the context of unintentional harm we held the Board meeting at Loch Lomond and had lunch with volunteers from the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team, the Loch Lomond Rescue Boat and the RNLI, along with staff from the National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This was a bit of a return for me as I served in this area during my early years with the Fire and Rescue Service; I was amazed at how the area has developed since I worked there and I was hugely impressed by all who gave an input. There’s a massive commitment from other agencies and the voluntary sector and we can learn a great deal about how engaged local people are in respect to supporting safer communities.
The data on unintentional injury is pretty stark – 27 times more people die of accidents in Scotland than homicide (with around 1600 deaths per year); unintentional injury is the biggest killer of children and young people in Scotland; a single death in the home from unintentional injury costs on average £1.6m; and the death rate from unintentional injury has remained pretty static since the mid-1990s. I’m also concerned about the impacts of falls (around 45% of all deaths and 60% of emergency hospital admissions from unintentional injury) and it appears that we can do something to help older people, who are over-represented here, as we begin to focus on the evidence and look at those communities that are most at risk.
As is the case with crime (the other harm the programme is trying to reduce), unintentional harm is concentrated in our most deprived communities. Our evidence tells us that building social capital and community cohesion will help to reduce crime and we want to explore whether the same is true for reducing unintentional harm where the evidence is less clear.
The steering group for Phase 2 (unintentional harm) will be meeting to discuss this further on 29 September and are aiming to host an advisory group before Christmas to share our findings with practitioners and develop the next steps. I look forward to writing again with some details on how we plan to implement the findings of the Strategic Assessment and I shall ensure that I keep people involved in all that’s beginning to emerge.