Child accident statistics are no longer being collected
Child accident statistics have not been collected in the UK since 2002, making it extremely difficult to develop effective child safety policies and initiatives. This article examines the reasons behind the data cessation and looks at ongoing campaigns to reintroduce the collection of child accident statistics.
Across the UK, children of all ages are involved in increasing numbers of accidents, both at home and in public places. Yet the government has not collected any data on child accidents or injuries since 2002. From 2000-2002, statistics on all the different types of child accidents were reported by the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance Systems (HASS/LASS), however, there has been no new data collected since this point. The only nationwide data that is now collected concerns child mortality rates and fatal accidents.
That there is no accurate data from this year onwards presents a great difficulty for those seeking to understand more about the causes of child injury. Without sufficient data, it is extremely difficult to identify injury trends, including where accidents occur and what kinds of injuries children are likely to sustain. Without this knowledge, it is subsequently very hard to establish successful injury prevention campaigns, or to know where the greatest priorities are with regards to targeting child accident scenarios.
Current data collection concerning child injury is sporadic at best. Sometimes data will be collected in response to a specific injury type; for example, the recent increase in dog bite attacks has prompted the collection of this data from A&E departments. This does not, however, apply to all child accident scenarios.
It is not explicitly stated why the government stopped collecting this data in 2002, although it seems likely that expenditure cuts at the time are the main reason. The Department for Trade and Industry (now the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) announced in 2003 that it would not longer fund the collection or publication of any child accident data. Since then, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has campaigned for the collection of comprehensive child accident data to be reintroduced. Although all government departments are facing spending cuts, the collection of child injury data is not a dead-end project, but an initiative that would help to prevent hundreds of child injuries every year.
The campaign to re-introduce data collection has received a boost in the last few years, thanks to the efforts of RoSPA. In 2008, a year-long study was commissioned to make the case that collecting child injury data was both feasible and useful. This was then presented to the Department of Health. As a result of this study, the Department of Health commissioned the South West Public Health Observatory to carry out further research into the value and method of collecting various injury data. This currently involves collecting injury data from several A&E departments across the South of England. It is hoped that this will lead to the full implementation of child injury data collection. Meanwhile, however, children continue to be involved in accidents, and groups such as RoSPA have no measurable way of identifying how to prevent such accidents from occurring.