Violence reduction project expanded

Navigator programme opens in second hospital emergency department.

A second hospital will run a violence reduction scheme in its emergency department after a successful pilot in Glasgow.

The Navigator programme helps patients who have been the victims or perpetrators of violence to make the changes they need to improve their lives.

Navigators are now working at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh’s busy emergency department thanks to £70,000 funding from the Scottish Government.

The programme, run by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, has been operating from Glasgow Royal Infirmary for more than a year, supporting around 300 people so far.

Less than a third of emergency department patients who are victims of violence report the incident to police. The Navigator programme uses that brief window of opportunity of admission to the emergency department to diffuse difficult situations, identify the services that could help to change their life and help them access those services.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson visited the emergency department of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to meet the new Navigators and medical staff on Thursday.

He said: “This is a unique programme providing support in difficult situations and to people when they may be at their most vulnerable and I am delighted we have been able to extend it to a second Scottish hospital.

“The Navigators do a remarkable job dealing sensitively with people who are injured and distressed, often defusing situations which could lead to further harm. Meeting the teams in both Glasgow and Edinburgh I am pleased to hear they have become an integral part of the hospital’s busy emergency department and welcomed by the medical teams who do such a valuable and demanding job.

“There are many people who struggle to break the cycle of violence that destroys lives without the right support. This is where the Navigators can make a real difference.”

Inspector Keith Jack from Police Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Navigator has become an integral part of the emergency department teams in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our Navigators work in a consistent, caring and compassionate way that encourages people who ordinarily do not engage with services.

“We have developed excellent relationships with a range of organisations who offer bespoke responses to the really difficult challenges faced by many. The very personal approach employed by Navigator has been effective in building trust and encouraging people to make changes in their life, where previously they lacked any hope. This has a direct effect on health, crime and in people creating peaceful, happier lives, the ripple effect on families and communities is significant.”

Sara Robinson, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine, NHS Lothian, said:

“Over the last couple of months we have seen a big difference in the way that social care is addressed in the emergency department. The Navigator programme allows us to bridge the gap between medical and social care, so we can help to address issues with people’s social situations, as well as treat their physical health. 

“It has also been a boost to staff morale – our staff feel more confident than ever that patients are being treated a whole. This project is important for delivering integrated care, so that we can continue to provide a person-centred service.”


The number of attempted murders and serious assaults recorded by police have fallen 45% since 2006/07, while the number of common assaults has fallen by a quarter over the same period.

Tackling violent crime remains a key priority for the Scottish Government and over £7.6 million has been invested since 2008 in the Violence Reduction Unit.

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