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26 April 2007
Serious violence-related injuries fell by 2% in England and Wales last year, despite the change in pub opening hours, according to a new study from the Violence Research Group.
This year’s study of hospital records by the Group is the first analysis complete set of data since the licensing laws changed in November 2005. The law change had triggered fears that longer opening hours would see a rise in street violence. However, the researchers found that approximately 6,000 fewer people needed hospital treatment for violence injuries than in 2005.
The Research Group team analysed data from 33 Accident and Emergency departments across England and Wales. The 2% fall was less dramatic than that of previous years and the figure for violence against men remained unchanged. However, there was a sharp 8% drop in the number of female victims.
The annual study was set up to complement official Home Office statistics. The Cardiff team have recorded a consistent fall in the number of assault victims since 2000, while violent incidents logged by the police have risen.
Violence Research Group director Professor Jonathan Shepherd said: "It seems likely that street CCTV and better targeted patrols mean that police are getting to fights more often and earlier. This would explain why incident numbers are up and injuries are down — police are intervening before anyone is seriously hurt. This illustrates the increasing injury prevention benefits of CCTV and targeted police activity in city centres.
"We estimate that some 364,000 people needed hospital treatment for assaults last year. That is still too many, but it is encouraging to see that the trend is downwards and that the feared effect of the licensing law change has not materialised."
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