Skip to main content

Serious violence declines

13 January 2016

Jonathan Shepherd

A five-year study has found a “substantial” reduction in serious violence across England and Wales

Figures collated by the University’s Violence Research Group (VRG) between January 2010 and December 2014 show a 13.8% average annual reduction in violence across the five-year period.

For the first time, the research provides a regional breakdown of violence-related injury rates in England and Wales. The findings are published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

All but two of the ten regions studied showed a significant decrease in hospital treatment following violence. Bucking this trend were the Eastern region which showed only a slight drop, while the South West experienced a slight increase.

With an average year-on-year decrease of 26%, the West Midlands saw the biggest fall in serious violence. The overall rate of violent injury among boys and girls (aged 0-10) saw an average annual reduction of 20%.

People living in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside regions were more likely to be injured in violence than those in other regions. Young males (aged 18-30) and adolescents (aged 11-17) were the groups most likely to be injured.

The months of May and July consistently stood out as times when serious violence was most common, whereas February was the quietest month.

The data were gathered from a scientific sample of 151 Emergency Departments (EDs), Minor Injury Units (MIUs) and Walk-in Centres in regions of England and Wales. The findings are drawn from 247,016 recorded visits of males and females needing treatment following violence.

Each ED, MIU and Walk-in Centre is a certified member of the University-based National Violence Surveillance Network (NVSN), which has published annual reports for the past 15 years.

“Our study is very encouraging in demonstrating a consistent and substantial decline in violence in England and Wales, including among children,” said the Director of the Violence Research Group at Cardiff, Professor Jonathan Shepherd – a study co-author.

“There is increasing evidence to suggest that this decline can be attributed in part to public health interventions and improved information-sharing between health services, police and local government.

“This joined-up approach continues to provide intelligence that is used to improve targeted policing, enhance weapon control and bring about better alcohol licensing.

“But there remain areas of concern. The data show that young males aged 18-30 are still the group most likely to be injured in violence and that violence rates in northern regions are higher than in the rest of England and Wales.

“There could be a number of reasons for this, including the use of violence as a means to establish a strong masculine identity, higher levels of alcohol consumption among young adults compared with other age groups, and north-south inequalities in health and prosperity.”

Professor Shepherd also points to the likely impact of alcohol consumption trends on the national decline in violence-related injury. Between 2005 and 2014, hospital admissions for alcohol-related violence in England declined by 27% at a time when alcohol consumption declined by 17%.

He added: “Given that violence peaks in the summer months of May and July, a time when all-day drinking is more common, it would make sense for the government to step up alcohol campaigns and violence prevention efforts at this time.”