Letters

Published: 03/06/2004, Volume II4, No. 5908 Page 22

Your article 'PCTs flunk statutory duties on crimereduction involvement' points out the concerns that many of us have about lack of clarity in policy guidance and about resources in this area (news, page 9, 22 April).

It would be wrong, however, to give the impression that nothing is being done.

Coventry teaching primary care trust has worked successfully with its police, local authority and fire service partners in the two years since its inception, building on the previous work done within its predecessor organisations.

This has seen the formation of the Coventry community safety partnership, which has several senior personnel from a range of organisations engaged in the delivery of the combined objectives of a community safety plan.

The partnership-chairing arrangements operate on a threeyear rolling programme. The local authority and PCT chief executives and a senior police force member rotate the chair.

While it is correct to say that there are no new resources for PCTs to carry out this work, we believe that useful joint work can be done, and we can see the benefits from this partnership.

This has enabled us, for example, to develop an informationsharing protocol, which is providing an overarching framework for both statutory and voluntary organisations to share information within and between organisations in order to reduce crime.

Issues of confidentiality are vitally important, but it is only through involvement that the problem can be addressed.

Laurence Tennant Chief executive Coventry tPCT With reference to 'Partners in crime', (page 41, 25 March), I hope that Melanie Print is not falling into the trap of confusing section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act (which gives the power, but not the authority, to disclose personal information), with obligations under the other legislation to which she refers.

I and my colleagues in adjacent trusts recently produced a protocol to address the issues of sharing NHS data with our local police force. In it we have stated clearly that we will provide any amount of anonymous data (and seek to collect previously unrecorded data) for the purpose of the local crime prevention and reduction strategy.

We have also clarified that if personal data is requested we will process such a request under data protection legislation, seeking consent to disclose if appropriate, or taking a view on the greater public interest.

I have only summarised our protocol, but feel it is important that NHS organisations understand the law and make clear but simple statements about how they will comply with it.

We have taken an 'if we can, we will' approach, which has been welcomed. I see no reason to tie oneself in knots when it is easy to clarify an organisation's stance.

Stewart Smith Information security manager Conwy and Denbighshire trust