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Violence injuries fall 12 per cent

24 April 2008

Two boys fighting

Serious violence fell sharply in England and Wales in 2007, according to the annual Violence and Society Research Group study of assault-related injuries.

The study found a 12 per cent drop in violence-related attendances to hospital Accident and Emergency departments compared to the previous year. An estimated 322,000 people attended hospital casualty departments following assaults – 43,000 fewer than in 2006.

The results confirm the Group’s finding last year that relaxing the licensing laws has not increased violence levels.

The research team analysed attendances data from a representative sample of accident and emergency departments across England and Wales, including major city hospitals. They found that attacks were down on adult males and females of all age groups.

Young men remained the most likely to be assaulted, with violence levels highest on Saturday and Sunday. However, even the 18-30 age group saw a fall in violent attacks, down from an estimated 173,433 injury victims in 2006 to 148,000 in 2007.

The only population group experiencing an increase in violence-related injuries were children aged 0 to 10, where incidents more than doubled. An estimated 8,067 children suffered injuries in 2007, up from 3,805 the previous year.

Violence and Society Research Group director Professor Jonathan Shepherd, who pioneered the use of A&E data to research violence trends, said: "Last year, we saw a 2 per cent fall in violence-related serious injuries, suggesting that the 2005 Licensing Act had not had the feared effect on city centre assaults. This year’s 12 per cent fall confirms that.

"Our annual violence study has now recorded a consistent drop in serious injuries since 2000. The A&E data suggests overall violence is coming under control, possibly through better targeted policing and the work of local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.

"The one worrying trend from this year’s survey is the increase in assaults on young children, although the overall numbers still remain low. It is not clear whether this increase is caused by parents and carers – there is also evidence that violence between children in schools and public places may also be responsible. Whatever the cause, the roles of child safeguarding agencies such as the police, the NHS and local authorities, should be enhanced to deal with this problem."