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 481.

    @OldGrumpySock you see my bank balance chart ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    My nephew and niece don't drink , they consider themselves above it as persons ) I kind of agree and many teenagers are now better educated . However another factor in life is the electronic world people engross themselves in , sit down anywhere and you see many people hunched over their phones so less social engagement helps lower crime .

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    .Mega Awesume Pooster

    "very true in my village in kent their has been no crime since the tories got in, thank!"

    Sounds like a very traditional English village - even has a village idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    460. Me
    "And one were to prove that save for the fiddling it was actually down by 6%."


    And this is the key.

    Until someone comes out and reveals the extend of the fiddling, simply saying "police figures are fiddled so crime must be increasing" is just replacing one lot of made up numbers with another and calling it fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    What pathetic justification to raise the price of alcohol. I wonder what they'll say when the increase in violence soars again and it will? The fall in crime may be to do with other reasons, such as people fail to report crimes, reduction of police numbers and apathy, but of course those reasons do not agree with government agendas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    164. The Watcher of democracy
    Statistics may not be precise but they are better than no stats at all. Besides there are reason to think serious violent crimes are falling - we have A&E admissions to go on and a murder is the most violent crime and we have precise stats for that, and that has plummeted over the last thirty years.
    I don't find the "its all made up" argument very compelling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    460. Unbelievable Tekkers

    "Just because a figure can't be trusted doesn't necessarily mean the opposite must be true."

    Does anyone understand this statement?

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    My opinion is correct! FACT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    All these idiots coming on here, saying that the stats are wrong, or that crime is not being reported makes me feel like going out and punching someone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    I feel society is less aggressive than it used to be. Thirty years ago one could see parents frequently smacking their children in public - its less acceptable now. Young people are more polite than older folk (older folk will simply not believe me - but it is true). War and poverty has a brutalising effect, and thank goodness for most in the UK they are consigned to the first half of the 20th C.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    Complete cobblers.

    If they can secure a conviction they record it, if they can't they don't (or tyr their damndest not to)

    Statistics, statistics... ah the joys of statistics...

    Yes, there might be a fall in recorded crime - several friends have told me they won't bother reporting crime to the Police in future because of the way they were treated or the way the Police didn't do their job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    415. Peter_Sym
    382. imemomeme
    Why is there an acceptance that all people involved in a violent incident will attend A&E.
    There isn't. There is an acceptance that the sort of injuring needing treatment after a violent incident 5 or 10 years ago will need treatment this year.
    Common assault and theft person/street robbery. are violent offences does not mean a trip to A&E necessarily,

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    Can we *please* now introduce minimum alcohol pricing? This proposal was disgracefully dropped recently, despite overwhelming evidence that it provides numerous benefits to society, including crime reduction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    Instead of mugging people in the streets these people now attack people online. So instead of getting physically attacked and your purse stolen, you now get your whole bank account emptied and your credit cards stripped.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    You can't have it both ways. Why do we need a minimum price per unit for alcohol if this study suggests that the rising price has led to a drop in violence?

    I'd agree you can use statistics to prove anything (e.g rise in in global warming due to decline of pirates since the 18th century), but surely a more pertinent statistic for this story would be the introduction of unleaded petrol?

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    448.STeve wrote
    "@OldGrumpySock funny thing about this, I am a statistician. More art than science. ;)"
    You must be one of 3.4% of turkey's that vote for Xmas ;)

    4.9 ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    According to the news all men who were alive in the 60's are pedophiles and everyone who works in adult entertainment has been trafficked and anyone with relatives abroad is probably a terrorist, all recreational drug users are either near death or so hyped up they are likely to engage in violent crime within the next few minutes. None of this is true but its much more entertaining than the truth

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    I also think another important factor is education. More people have succeeded in education and now have a higher education than ever before. Leading to a more intelligent and hopefully thoughtful society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    It would be a trivial matter to break down fiqures for shootings and stabbings by ethnic origin.

    The prospect of the BBC reporting them would be incredibly low.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    Look, you can prove anything with facts but the Daily Mail has told me that every single British youth is a violent binge drinking yob.

    Facts or hyperbolic rhetoric? I know which one I'm going to trust. This country is going to hell in a hand cart


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