Children among hundreds taken to A&E with stab and knife wounds
PUBLISHED: 05:31 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 13 February 2020
More than 550 people were taken to A&E with stab and knife wounds at Suffolk and north Essex's main hospitals in just three years, we can reveal.
In total, 522 adults and 26 children went to emergency departments with the injuries from 2017 to 2019.
Ipswich had the most children attending, with 18 youngsters taken to emergency departments with stab injuries.
There was a rise in admissions at Colchester and West Suffolk, but a fall at Ipswich over the three-year period. But the number of children attending A&E with stab wounds has increased year on year.
Hospital bosses were keen to stress that such wounds could be down to accidents or self-inflicted injuries, and are not always linked to crime.
'Knives weapon of choice'
Yet Roxanne Chudleigh, of Ipswich Against Gangs, said she was not surprised to see more young people sustaining such wounds - adding that her organisation is hearing about increasing numbers of youngsters getting involved in gang lifestyles, where weapons are freely carried by children.
Ms Chudleigh, who set up Ipswich Against Gangs following the death of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens, said: "These figures are shocking. I'm unfortunately not surprised, knives seem to be the weapon of choice. I think it's time that the government made it harder to obtain any kind of knife."
'Not always victims of crime'
Neill Moloney, managing director of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said: "Not every patient treated for a stab wound is necessarily a victim of crime, they may have had an accident at home or work, or they could have inadvertently caused the injury themselves.
"We do have safeguarding processes in place and always work closely with our partners, including the police, to protect and care for our patients.
"Our clinical teams see and deal with a range of different situations that may be upsetting or traumatic every day and counselling is always available to them."
Nick Jenkins, medical director at the West Suffolk Hospital which had the fewest admissions for stab injuries, said cases of this kind are relatively rare for the trust.
He added: "Our initial priority for any kind of stabbing injury is to make sure bleeding is controlled, and to assess the extent of any internal injuries.
"Very serious cases will often be taken directly to the region's specialist major trauma centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
"In the last eight years, the creation of major trauma centres like these has led to the survival of more than 1,600 patients who have suffered some of the most severe and complicated injuries, thanks to top clinical teams."
What did police have to say?
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: "Knife crime can have devastating consequences and if you are found illegally in possession of a knife police will take positive action, resulting in your likely arrest and being put before the court and brought to justice.
"Carrying knives does not keep you safe - quite the opposite.
"One of the main motivating factors reported for people carrying a knife is because they feel threatened, but by carrying one you are putting yourself in much greater danger and are more likely to become a victim and get injured yourself.
"While the vast majority of young people do not carry knives, it is possible that children are in contact with friends who do so without parents/carers knowing.
"Often young people will have talked about knives with friends or heard stories about those that carry them, but parents/carers should still consider having the conversation, setting out the facts and the terrible impact that knife crime can have."
They encouraged people to access their knife crime advice bulletin here.