Serious violence down sharply in England and Wales

53 minutes agoAbout sharing

By Steve Swann
BBC home affairs reporter

Serious violence fell substantially in England and Wales last year, a study has shown.

Despite increases in the two previous years, the overall trend is for a long-term decline in serious violence, Cardiff University researchers found.

The fall was driven by reductions among 18 to 30-year-olds, the work showed.

“England and Wales are safer now than they were a year ago, much safer than two decades ago,” said lead author Prof Jonathan Shepherd.

Cardiff University’s Violence Research Group analysed data from 219 hospital emergency departments, minor injury units and walk-in-centres in England and Wales in 2023.

An estimated 141,804 people with injuries sustained in violence were treated in emergency departments across England and Wales, down 22,919 (14%) compared to the previous year.

Only 2020 lower

In more than 20 years of recording the data, researchers have only seen the level lower once before – in 2020, when violence dropped dramatically during the Covid lockdowns.

In 2021 and 2022, serious violence, defined as requiring emergency hospital treatment, saw big increases as the night-time economy reopened, and pandemic restrictions eased and then ended.

But the latest figures indicate the long-term downward trend since 2001 has re-emerged.

The sharpest fall, down by 25%, was among 18 to 30-year-olds – the group at greatest risk of serious violence.

“The overall fall in serious violence in 2023 and especially the steady falls over the longer term are dramatic,” said Prof Shepherd.

He described the reductions as “good news for the NHS and police, and for hard-pressed hospital emergency departments in particular”.

The authors acknowledge that the findings come at a time of public concern about violence and knife crime. They point to recent research showing that half of all teenagers in England and Wales witnessed or were victims of violence in the 12 months up to November 2023.

Police data also shows that all forces recorded an increase in knife crime in the year ending September 2023 – but today’s report and earlier studies by the NHS show fewer hospital admissions because of stabbings.

Researchers think the change could be attributable to the effectiveness of violence prevention strategies by police and other bodies. That includes police targeting of serious violence hotspots.

The fact that growing numbers of young adults are staying at home with their parents, shown in research by the Office of National Statistics, may also be a factor, says the report.

The Cardiff research also indicates that last year, serious violence peaked in May, was generally higher at weekends and on Mondays, and was at its lowest in January and February.

26 April 202212 May 2021


Table of Contents

More Posts