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Fewer people injured in serious violence in England and Wales in 2019 - A&E data report

21 April 2020

Emergency dept sign

Violence resulting in emergency hospital treatment decreased in England and Wales in 2019, according to a Cardiff University analysis of accident & emergency data.

Numbers of patients injured in violence who were treated in A&Es in 2019 dropped by 6.3% from 2018, the analysis published today found.

It is the steepest overall fall since 2015 and follows three years in which falls in violence dwindled and knife injuries increased substantially, the study’s authors said.

In all, the number of people injured in violence and treated in A&Es in England and Wales has fallen 143,113 (45%) since 2010.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, one of the report authors from the University’s Crime and Security Research Institute, said: “In all the concern about Covid-19 we mustn’t lose sight of other serious threats to public health. This reduction in serious violence last year, if the measures put in place in 2018/19 to achieve this are maintained, means towns and cities will be safer when we come out of this crisis.

“Violence which puts people in A&E in England and Wales has almost halved since 2010. This represents real progress.”

The authors cite several possible explanations for the decline in violence since 2018, including increases in police resources and targeting of knife crime, drug markets and specific locations.

“We know that targeted policing, based on anonymised information from A&Es, as well as police intelligence - known as the Cardiff Model for Violence Prevention - doesn't just reduce violence at a specific location but also in the area around it,” Professor Shepherd said.

This may well explain why targeting knife violence has prevented a lot of comparatively minor violence too.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd Professor, Crime and Security Research Institute

In April 2019, the Home Office allocated more than £50m to police forces to strengthen their response to serious violence, in particular knife crime, the report said, enabling them to increase patrols, weapon sweeps, equipment for officers and overtime.

Experts from the University’s Violence Research Group analysed data by age and sex from a sample of 111 A&E departments, minor injury units and walk-in centres across England and Wales which are part of Cardiff University’s National Violence Surveillance Network over a 12-month period ending 31 December 2019.

The Violence Research Group has published an annual report on trends in serious violence for the last 19 years. In addition, it collaborated with the Office for National Statistics to produce its 2020 report on physical abuse of children.

An estimated 175,764 people attended these emergency NHS facilities with injuries sustained in violence in 2019 - 11,820 fewer than the previous year.

Violent injury of males and females declined by 6.6% and 5.6%, respectively, in 2019 compared with the previous year. Decreases in violence among those aged 18-30 years (down 11.7%) and 31-50 years (down 9.3%) were also recorded.

“Nearly 12,000 fewer people treated in A&Es for injuries caused by violence in 2019 is a considerable achievement. After a few years of flatlining when knife violence took off it's really encouraging to see overall violence coming down once more,” said Professor Shepherd.

“However, it’s not all good news. For the second year running we’ve seen an increase in violent injury in people over 50 (up 7.9% in 2019, from the previous year). This increase is difficult to explain but it may be linked to steadily increasing alcohol consumption in this age group.”

Similar to previous years, those most at risk of violence-related injury were males (more than twice at risk than females) and young adults (aged 18-30). Violence-related A&E attendances were most frequent in March and August and on weekends.

“Next year’s report will reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic” said Professor Shepherd.