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Rising alcohol prices behind drop in violence

Researchers from Cardiff University have suggested that higher alcohol prices and less binge drinking may explain a 12 percent drop in the number of people admitted to hospitals in England and Wales for treatment following violence last year.

Data from the National Violence Surveillance Network (NVSN) – based on returns from a sample of 117 emergency departments, minor injury units and walk-in centres covering about a third of the total in England and Wales – found that an estimated 234,509 people sought treatment at hospital accident and emergency departments across England and Wales in 2013, 32,780 fewer than in 2012. Five-year trend figures also showed a sustained decrease in the levels of serious violence.

The Annual Violence & Society Research Group’s annual report cited alcohol as one of several factors contributing to the falls in reported violence:

“The affordability of alcohol has decreased, the real price of alcohol in both the on-trade and the off-trade has increased and UK alcohol consumption levels have decreased from 10.8 litres per capita in 2008 to 10 litres per capita in 2011. These factors may partly explain the falls in serious violence in England and Wales.”

The authors also stated that the reasons for the falls in reported violence were likely to be “multi-factorial and complex” and “could include changes in structural factors such as unemployment, poverty and inequality in addition to public health and criminal justice”.

The report ‘Violence in England and Wales in 2013: An Accident and Emergency Perspective’ was produced by the Cardiff University Violence & Society Research Group.