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10% fall in people being treated at A&E for violence-related injuries

Serious violence dipped by a 10th in England and Wales last year, but casualties peaked at weekends amid spikes in alcohol-fuelled incidents, according to research.

Academics found an estimated 188,803 people attended emergency departments for treatment following violence in 2016 - 21,437 fewer than the previous year.

The report said the latest fall continues steady reductions since 2002, with last year's tally 40% down compared with 2010.

Lead author Professor Jonathan Shepherd, director of the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University, said: "Our study demonstrates a substantial decrease in violence-related injuries for both men and women in 2016 compared to 2015.

"Since 2010, we have identified a decline of 40% in people needing treatment in emergency departments after violence.

"The substantial year-on-year decline in serious violence is welcome news for citizens and communities across England and Wales.

"Moreover, costs imposed on health services and the criminal justice system by violence have been substantially reduced along with burdens on stretched emergency departments."

The paper said the reasons for the continuing fall are not clear, but suggested improvements in detection and reporting, better targeted policing, improved sharing of data by emergency departments, and local collaboration to tackle violence on the streets, in licensed premises and domestic settings.

The analysis also showed that violence-related attendance at emergency departments was most frequent on Saturdays and Sundays.

Prof Shepherd said: "Our findings suggest that alcohol-related violence remains a significant problem, with violence-related emergency department attendance consistently at its highest levels on weekends."

Violence peaked in May, July and October. Experts have previously suggested higher numbers in spring and summer could be related to longer daylight hours, which result in larger numbers of people in urban centres for longer periods.

The latest report, based on data from 152 emergency departments, minor injury units and walk-in centres, found that those most at risk of injury from violence were males and those aged 18 to 30.

Although the overall number fell, violence-related attendances of children aged up to 10 increased by 10% last year compared with 2015.

Researchers said this apparent rise should be treated with caution due to the low number of children sampled.

Official measures present a complex picture of the trends in violent crime.

Levels estimated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales have shown substantial falls over the longer term, before remaining fairly flat in the last two years.

Meanwhile, police recorded an annual rise of 22% in violence against the person offences in the year to September - although statisticians say this was largely driven by changes in recording processes and the inclusion of additional harassment offences.

Earlier this month, Metropolitan Police figures showed sharp jumps in recorded knife and gun crime.

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