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Decline in serious violence

26 April 2017

Two police officers

The number of people injured in serious violence dropped by 10% in 2016 compared to 2015, according to a national report on serious violence published by Cardiff University.

The study, which examines data by age and sex, is produced from a scientific sample of 152 emergency departments (EDs), minor injury units and walk-in centres in England and Wales. All are certified members of the National Violence Surveillance Network (NVSN), which has published an annual report for the past 16 years.

Lead author of the study and Director of the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University, Professor Jonathan Shepherd, said: Our study demonstrates a substantial decrease in violence-related injuries for both men and women in 2016 compared to 2015...”

“Since 2010, we have identified a decline of 40% in people needing treatment in emergency departments after violence.”

Professor Jonathan Shepherd Professor Emeritus in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

The substantial year-on-year decline in serious violence is welcome news for citizens and communities across England and Wales. Moreover, costs imposed on health services and the criminal justice system by violence have been substantially reduced along with burdens on stretched emergency departments.”

Alcohol-related violence remains a significant problem”

But it isn't all good news; our findings suggest that alcohol-related violence remains a significant problem, with violence-related emergency department attendance consistently at its highest levels on weekends,” Professor Shepherd added.

Overall, an estimated 188,803 people attended EDs in England and Wales for treatment following violence in 2016, 21,437 fewer than in 2015.

Violence related ED attendances of children aged 0-10 increased by 10%, though low numbers make this finding uncertain.

In 2016, males were two and a half times more likely than females to receive ED treatment following injury in violence.

As in previous years, those most at risk of violence-related injury were males and those aged 18 to 30.

Violence-related ED attendance was most frequent on Saturdays and Sundays and during the months of May, July and October, while February and November saw the lowest numbers.

Whilst the study does not examine the reasons for the steady decline in serious violence, the report cites a number of possible reasons, including better detection and reporting of serious violence, better targeted policing, improved sharing of data by emergency departments, and local inter-agency collaboration to tackle violence on the streets and in licenced premises.

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The Group comprises medical and social scientists, economists, psychologists, academic clinicians and practitioners from across the University.