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Violent crime fails to fall

20 April 2016

Jonathan Shepherd

The number of people in England and Wales injured in serious violence resulting in hospital treatment failed to fall for the first time in seven years, according to a University study.

The study by the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University estimates that 210,215 people attended an Emergency Department (ED) for treatment following violence in 2015, a similar number to those reporting injury in 2014.

This is the first year since 2008 that violence has showed no significant change.

Lead author of the study and Director of the University’s Violence Research Group Professor Jonathan Shepherd, said: "Our 2015 study found there was no significant change in the overall rate of violence in the 12 months ending 31st December 2015.

“After successive annual falls in overall levels of violence in England and Wales, this is the first time since 2008 violence in England and Wales serious enough to result in hospital treatment shows no real change.

“This finding is also consistent with the latest report from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) which also found that rates of violent incidents were no different in the year ending September 2015, compared with the previous 12 months.

“It is possible that the long steady decline in violence in England and Wales has come to an end.”

Now in its 16th year, the annual study examines anonymous data from a scientific sample of 91 Emergency Departments, Minor Injury Units and Walk-in Centres in England and Wales. All are certified members of the National Violence Surveillance Network (NVSN).

The study, which examines data by age and sex, found males were two-and-a-half times more likely than females to receive emergency treatment following injury in violence. This preponderance of males was apparent across all age groups.

In line with previous years, the study also found that those most at risk of violence-related injury remained males aged between 18-30 with violence-related ED attendance remaining most likely on a Saturday and Sunday and during the months of May, August and December.

Serious violence affecting children (0-10 years) decreased, continuing the substantial decrease reported in 2014 whilst violent injury affecting those aged 51 years and over increased by 8%.

Whilst the study does not examine the reasons for the apparent bottoming out of violence the report cites disinvestment in CCTV and crime analysis by Council and Police Forces as possible factors.

Professor Shepherd added: “Potential explanations for this trajectory include disinvestment by local authorities and police forces in real time CCTV monitoring and in crime analysis - often considered to be a "back room function”.

“Public health practitioners and policy makers responsible for tackling community violence in England and Wales need to take note and consider refreshing current violence prevention initiatives, especially if trends in 2016 are similar.”