Violent crime in England and Wales falls again, A&E data shows


Report author Prof Jonathan Shepherd said the drop was connected to changing alcohol habits

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Violent crime is continuing a long-term fall in England and Wales, according to annual figures from NHS hospitals.

There was a 12% fall in injuries from violent incidents in 2013, according to data from almost a third of emergency departments examined by Cardiff University.

It found 235,000 people were treated following a violent attack in 2013 - 32,800 fewer than in the previous year.

The authors said the rising cost of alcohol might have played a role.

They also said the figures mirrored other research, adding to evidence that the long-term trend in violent crime was down.

The 12% fall means it is the fifth consecutive year that NHS units have recorded a decrease in violent injuries.

Data from the Cardiff University study on violent crime, showing a drop in hospital visits
'Welcome' fall

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, the report's lead author, said: "The data shows another significant year-on-year fall. Apart from a 7% increase in 2008, levels of serious violence have fallen every year since 2001.

"Continuing, substantial decreases in serious violence are welcome for citizens, communities and in combating the fear of crime.

Man drinking beer Some campaigners have called for an increase in the price of alcohol

"They also decrease the costs of violence to health services and the criminal justice system and reduce pressures on hard-pressed Accident and Emergencies late at night at the weekend."

Men between 18 and 30 years old remained the most at risk of being a victim - but the report also found that the greatest annual decreases occurred among youth and young adult victims.

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Prof Shepherd said: "Violence is falling in many Western countries and we don't know all the reasons why.

"Binge drinking has become less frequent, and the proportion of youth who don't drink alcohol at all has risen sharply.

"Also, after decades in which alcohol has become more affordable, since 2008 it has become less affordable.

"For people most prone to involvement in violence, those aged 18-30, falls in disposable income are probably an important factor."

'Crazy periods'

Start Quote

I think raising the price of alcohol would be giving a push to bring down the consumption levels further”

End Quote Prof John Ashton UK Faculty of Public Health

The authors said that anti-violence strategies involving local public agencies working closely together could also be yielding results.

The Cardiff University study looked at treatment given to victims at 117 emergency departments, minor injury units and NHS walk-in centres.

Responding to the report, UK Faculty of Public Health president Prof John Ashton called for an increase in the price of alcohol.

"We do periodically have these crazy periods where there's a lot of drinking - like Hogarth's Gin Lane 200 years ago - and society eventually responds and drinks less," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"And what's important is to get behind the history curves that are happening and give them a push in the right direction.

"I think raising the price of alcohol would be giving a push to bring down the consumption levels further."

'Let down'

The trend mirrors the findings published in the Crime Survey of England and Wales, a massive rolling project that interviews people about their experiences of crime, whether or not they have gone to the police.

Crimes recorded by the police also show long-term falls in violence, but the Office for National Statistics recently said that data from forces could not be considered reliable.

There is no comparable data for injuries from violent incidents in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

However, a Police Service of Northern Ireland report on recorded crime trends, published last July, found that violent crime figures had remained "fairly constant" since 2007/2008.

There had been a "small decrease", from 30,445 incidents in 2011/2012 to 30,305 in 2012/2013, the report added.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, published last month, showed there had been a 22% drop in recorded incidents of violent crime since 2008-2009.

In a separate report published on Wednesday, a watchdog urged probation services to do more to tackle alcohol misuse by offenders.

Paul McDowell, Chief Inspector of Probation, said that good work in rehabilitating offenders in the UK was being "let down" by a lack of attention to alcohol, despite its known link to violence.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 861.

    This doesn't match my personal view on life so it must be wrong.

    I will now put my fingers in my ears and scream la la la la la.

    [An Average BBC HYS Poster]

  • rate this

    Comment number 860.

    Interesting - I follow BBC news UK daily (from USA) and frankly - I see the same amount of crime (senseless attacks, arson etc) as I have seen for years.) reporting stats must have changed. Vandalism - seems to be increasing - esp after some new site - attraction is announced. Nothing changed there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 859.

    855 Daniel
    " people vent in other ways these days, presumably using video games to burn through any aggression they might have"

    Well said!
    And many illiterate thugs burn off their aggression by writing rubbish on HYS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 858.

    Why has this country become obsessed with reports?

    I tell my wife the house is cleaner because I've just spent the last 3 hours vaccing & dusting it. I can't fool her, so why does the government assume they can do the same with us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    Since the size of the overall force has shrunk in recent years and the crime rate (for everything) was lower back then...probably not. I imagine there is even more barely policed crime about, particularly piracy and other things that are impossible to stop and hard to track.

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    Um...why is everyone shocked by people doing less of the expensive drinking that is also incredibly damaging to your body and mind? I would also like to point out that violence is probably down because people vent in other ways these days, presumably using video games to burn through any aggression they might have- although reading an internet comment section shows how many people vent there too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    All those who predicted a few years ago that this country is losing its sense of social responsibility have been proven wrong, and I'm happy with that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    With statistics like these, a good PR guru can milk the masses come an election. Unfortunately, people know a little more about the mechanisms of spinning this as a justifier for low crime figures. Wasted an electronic page. Besides, I can imagine a lot isn't reported, what with customer confidentiality, closed AnE units blah blah bla bla bla...

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    Good to hear but living in a city with the Army its not my experience although I am too old and don't go out in the dark to be affected by it.
    The genuine thought that this is true would be right up their with the belief that all politicians are always 100% truthful, however much I would like it to be the case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    Ah! for the good old days when we were young, drunk, and irresponsible and did what would unacceptable now.

    Q: Why can we not accept that today's kids are better behaved than we were?
    A: This doesn't sell newspapers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 850.

    violent crime falling, more people in work than ever, wages passing inflation, UK productivity up, benefit changes HELPING people back to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    re 848 -
    I understand your scepticism - but part of the basis of these statistics is not police based - it is A&E admission based - so it's not police biased.
    I am no apologist for the police - but these stats show a very interesting trend.
    I don't fully understand why they are happening - I just fear that politicos will pretend they know why (when they don't) and set policies accordingly!

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    We were told last month that the Police have been routinely massaging the figures to reach targets for years. 4 houses near to me were recently burgled by one man. When I look on Police.UK only one of those burglaries is recorded on the map ...

    I don't believe crime is falling, it's ELECTION time hype!

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    Sage advice - employment figures being a case in point as reflected by our part time zero hours sub subsistence "wage" culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    We live in a more violent world than we uses to. There is so much crime about. Years ago you used to feel safe walking down the road, but not now. Alot of people don't bother going to hospital, waiting 4 hours. Same with the Police they never turn up unless your dead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    Lies, da*n lies and statistics. Do the police actually count all of the times people call them after being threatened by neighbours or intimidated by gangs of yobs tormenting them? Each of these 'anti-social behaviour' events is a crime and a violent crime. In many ways these crimes out to be classed as 'terrorist' crimes for they terrify the victims. Add in the ASBOs and the true figure appears.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    Following on from my comment @ 841 - I have no definitive answer as to why this drop in violence is happening - I suspect it is amazingly complex.
    Perhaps it is a societal shift - perhaps it's a fluke - perhaps it's the 'phase of the moon' -
    My point is - beware of politicians etc who claim to know why - and claim to be able to control it via taxes on alcohol etc!

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    What a laugh. What the BBC should have printed is a story about the police fudging the figures better than last year. They ignore many requests for police support. They turn serious crimes like rape and burglary into minor events, or close the book on what happened by issuing a warning to the criminal, many with records as long as your arm. It's only less because they are hiding a lot of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    It's simple to use selective statistics to 'prove' almost anything you want to prove. In this case, as in so many, the conclusion is a political requirement. Ordinary people are well advised to judge for themselves, not rely on figures fed to them for propaganda purposes.


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