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Violence injuries rise more than six percent across England and Wales

22 April 2009

Person raising fist at someone else

Serious violence in England and Wales has risen for the first time in seven years, according to the annual Violence Research and Society Group study of assault-related injuries.

The study found a 6.6 per cent rise in violence-related attendances to hospital emergency departments in 2008 compared to the previous year, which had seen a sharp 12 per cent decrease. An estimated 351, 468 people attended hospital casualty departments in England and Wales following assaults – 21,000 more than in 2007.

The research team, which is based in the School of Dentistry, analysed attendance data from a representative sample of emergency departments across England and Wales, including major city hospitals. They found that attacks on men and women between the ages of 31 and 50 were up – with rates among women resulting in treatment increasing more than those among men.

Overall men remained the most likely to be assaulted, with violence levels highest on Saturday and Sunday. The 18-30 age group remained the most at risk of violent attacks, up an estimated three and a half per cent in 2008.

All age groups, except those aged 0-17, showed increases in violence-related emergency department attendance. An estimated 58,268 children suffered injuries in 2008, down from 67,741 the previous year.

The independent study is published today (Wednesday, April 22), coinciding with the Home Office’s own quarterly statistics which are compiled from police records and the British Crime Survey.

Violence and Society Research Group director Professor Jonathan Shepherd, who pioneered the Group’s approach to using emergency data to measure violence trends, said: "Our annual violence study has recorded an increase in serious injuries for the first time since 2001. These latest figures are still lower than the estimated 364,000 people who sought medical treatment following violence in 2006 and the overall trend is still downwards.

"We saw an encouraging and sharp fall in violence-related serious injuries in 2007, suggesting relaxed licensing laws had not had the feared effect on city centre assaults, and that initiatives such as Crime Reduction Partnerships were delivering results. What the 2008 results show however, is that crime prevention policies and delivery agencies still have a way to go before violence in the UK gets properly under control.

"The overall big picture however is that since 2000 there has been a 24 per cent overall reduction in violent assaults in England and Wales. In 2001, there were an estimated 442,000 assaults giving rise to emergency department treatment which is down to 350,000 in 2008."

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