Nottingham

Stab victims 'paying vets to stitch up their wounds'

A youth holding a knife
Image caption The BBC has been told that some knife crime victims look for people who can stitch them up at home

Stab victims are paying vets to stitch their wounds because they fear police will get involved if they go to hospital, the BBC has been told.

Some are worried about being seen as informants, while others fear being implicated if something bad happens to the person who attacked them.

Frontline workers who deal with gang violence in Nottingham say they know people who have paid a vet to treat a stab wound.

The "going rate" is said to be £200.

Sources told the BBC the practice had been going on for years.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said vets were not legally permitted to prescribe medicines for humans, but it did not have specific advice on whether they could treat wounds.

Image caption Marcellus Baz said people asked vets to stitch up wounds to avoid police involvement

Former gang member Marcellus Baz, winner of the Unsung Hero award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, said he knew a qualified vet who stitched up knife wounds.

Mr Baz, who runs an anti-knife crime programme, said: "They've got to get healed, they've got to get stitched and they know if they go to hospital, they're going to get police involvement."

'Snitches get stitches'

Nathan Kelly, a youth mentor for the Nottingham School of Boxing, said he was aware of people who had sought treatment outside hospital because "they don't want to go to the hospital and get it down on record they had been slashed or whatever".

"I know people personally that have gone and sought help from vets," he said.

Mr Kelly said he lied to medics after he was slashed in the face in an unprovoked attack several years ago.

"The first thing they want to do is get the police involved," he said.

"For me that wasn't an option because I don't want to get seen as being an informant. And you know what they say, snitches get stitches."

Image caption Nathan Kelly said medical staff asked him lots of questions when he went to hospital after being slashed in the face
Image copyright Sony Pictures Television
Image caption The idea of vets performing procedures on humans has become a popular trope in television dramas, such as Better Call Saul

The BBC has been told that some victims hop out of ambulances to avoid going to hospital, while others look for people who can stitch them up at home.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said no concerns had been raised about vets treating human wounds, but anyone with a concern could raise it confidentially.

Nottinghamshire Police said the force was not aware of any incidents where vets had treated stab victims locally or nationally.

"We are working with communities, victims and offenders of knife crime to understand why people would not want to seek medical attention and consequently police support as safeguarding is our priority.

"We can support people to gain access to other services who could help," the spokesperson said.

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