A study led by Cardiff University has found that the rate of violence across England and Wales has continued to fall amid changing attitudes towards alcohol.
The research revealed that the number of people treated as a result of serious violence in 2013 had fallen by 12% from the previous year, a reduction in 32,780 patients. This sharp decline is attributed in part to tighter governmental restrictions on selling alcohol and a decrease in cultural ‘binge drinking’.
Headed by Director of the University’s Violence and Society Research Group, Professor Jonathan Shepherd’s study discovered that last years decline is not a one-off drop – serious violence is falling annually. He said “Apart from a 7% increase in 2008, levels of serious violence have fallen every year since 2001.”
Several explanations are offered by Professor Shepherd for this year-on-year fall. “In England and Wales, the growth of multi-agency violence prevention involving police, the NHS and local authorities may well be a factor; violence has fallen more in regions where this is best organised.
He added: “Another probable explanation is changes in alcohol habits. 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.”
Professor Shepherd went on to explain how less patients treated for serious violence-related injuries would produce far-reaching benefits such as a reduction in National Health Service and justice sectors costs, as well as reduced ‘pressures on hard pressed A&Es late at night at the weekend.’ However, despite an on-going fall in patients, Emergency Departments continue to experience their busiest hours on a Saturday and Sunday.