Despite the recent spate of knife violence and homicide in London, the national picture of serious violence for 2017 remains largely the same as the previous year, according to a national report published by Cardiff University.
The study, which examines data by age and sex, is produced from a scientific sample of 94 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 17 years.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd, one of the authors of the report, from the Crime and Security Research Institute at Cardiff University, said: "Our study reveals there was little change in violence-related injuries from 2016, with just a 1% increase for 2017. However, between 2010 and 2016 we have identified a decline of around 40% in people needing treatment in emergency departments after violence.
“We hope this year’s stagnant figures aren’t a new trend and that we will continue to see a decline in serious violence next year.”
Overall, an estimated 190,747 people attended EDs in England and Wales for treatment following violence in 2017, 1942 more than in 2016.
Violence related ED attendances of children aged 0-10 increased by 11%, though low numbers make this finding uncertain.
As in previous years, those most at risk of violence-related injury were males and those aged 18 to 30. Males were more than twice as likely as females to be treated in EDs following injury in violence.
Violence-related ED attendance was most frequent on Saturdays and Sundays and during the summer months, with a peak in July. January and February saw the lowest numbers.
Professor Shepherd added: "Our findings also suggest that alcohol-related violence remains a significant problem, with violence-related emergency department attendance consistently at its highest levels on weekends. As alcohol is becoming increasingly affordable, this risk of alcohol-related violence is likely to increase.”
Whilst the study does not examine the reasons behind the violence numbers, it cites a number of possible explanations for no substantial increase, 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.
The Emergency Care Data Set, implemented in A&Es in England in October 2017, has increased the quality of public health information vital for preventing violence.