A picture of unintentional harm in Scotland

Unintentional harm in Scotland is a large burden on the population in terms of death and serious injury, but can also be a burden for public services with various reports presenting a powerful economic case for preventing this kind of harm. Unintentional harm in the home (falls in particular), unintentional harm to the very young and the very old and to people living in more deprived communities are prominent issues that emerged during the strategic assessment process.

It is for these reasons that they were selected as the priority areas of focus for Phase 2 of Building Safer Communities, in addition to data gathering, analysis and sharing and bridging the gap between strategy and delivery. The latter two were the essential next steps identified by a Phase 2 advisory group in order to effect change in unintentional harm in Scotland.

There is also the potential for unintentional harm to become an increasing burden due to the over-representation in deaths and injuries of older people from unintentional causes and the projected increase in this population in Scotland. Despite this, however, much unintentional harm is preventable through a variety of mechanisms.

The limited improvement in death and injury rates since the 1990’s excluding road traffic and fire (with around 1,250-1,400 deaths, 54,500 emergency hospital admissions in 2016 and almost 200,000 incidents each year) present broad scope for improvements through effective legislation, a focus on prevention and education, targeted interventions and partnership working.

In order to identify a range of priorities and recommendations to support a coordinated approach to tackling unintentional harm in Scotland, following the development of the Strategic Assessment an event was held in November 2015 with a range of key stakeholders representing both the public and third sectors.  From this event 5 main priorities emerged.

You can download the full National Strategic Assessment, including background documents and case studies from the Building Safer Communities Website at: