A police inspector from Scotland says violence is a public health issue that must be addressed collaboratively.

John Carnochan addressed delegates at the Northern Justice Symposium this morning in Prince Albert.

He describes violence as a contagious problem that defies clear definitions.

In his hometown of Glasgow, he says it is fuelled by a high degree of unemployment among young men, as well as chronic alcoholism.

As a result, he says domestic abuse was at one time 54% above the national average — while serious violence was 170% above the same bar.

In response, the city created a violence reduction unit that currently sees government agencies and outreach groups, educators and faith-based organizations meeting to discuss ways of combatting the problem.

Carnochan says some groups resisted the move at first, preferring to focus on their own jobs — but in the end, logic won out:

“We need to get beyond that and say: ‘Well. this is not a policing issue on its own, we’ve got a role to play’.  I mean if we reduce the number of knives in the street or we reduce the amount of violence, the first people to benefit will be doctors, because their lists will get shorter because they’ll be able to do operations they were meant to do — so there is a connection to everything we do.  No one works in isolation.”

He adds communities wanting to try the same approach should stick with it, as long-term progress requires a sustained effort.