An increase in alcohol prices in the UK is partly responsible for a reduction in binge drinking and serious violence for the sixth consecutive year, a study says.
The number of people injured in serious violence dropped by 12 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, with more than 32,000 fewer people treated for injuries relating to violence in England and Wales, a Cardiff University report found.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd, lead author of the study and director of the violence and society research group at the university, said a change in alcohol habits since 2008 could be one reason for the continued reduction.
“Binge drinking has become less frequent, and the proportion of youths who don’t drink alcohol at all has risen sharply,” he said.
“Also, after decades in which alcohol has become more affordable, since 2008 it has become less affordable.
“For people most prone to involvement in violence, those aged 18 to 30, falls in disposable income are probably an important factor.”
In the report, the authors say: “Since 2008, affordability of alcohol has decreased, the real price of alcohol in both the on-trade and off-trade has increased and UK alcohol consumption levels have decreased from 10.8 (in 2008) to 10 litres per capita (in 2011).”
Their conclusions were based on the report, Statistics on Alcohol: England, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in 2013 and the British Beer and Pub Association’s statistical handbook 2012.
HSCIC’s data shows that between 1980 and 2012, the price of alcohol increased by 24 per cent more than retail prices generally, although in the same period, disposable income rose by 99 per cent.
The data is based on a sample of 117 emergency departments, minor injury units and walk-in centres, which are certified members of the National Violence Surveillance Network. The network is a group of bodies willing to share anonymous data on violence-related injury.
Researchers found more than 234,509 people attended the services listed, but 32,780 fewer than in 2012. There has been a steady decrease every year since 2001, except in 2008 when there was a 7 per cent increase.
Violence among males decreased by 19.1 per cent, compared to 14.1 per cent of women. Meanwhile, violence among young adults is down by 14 per cent, but the report found those most at risk of getting injuries from serious violence were men aged 18 to 30.
The study’s findings come after the UK Statistics Authority withdrew its “gold standard” mark from police crime figures in January this year, which means the data for England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics, effectively come with a health warning.
Prof Shepherd said other reasons for the decrease could be the result of agencies, including the police, NHS and local authorities, working together to prevent further violence. “Violence has fallen more in regions where this is best organised,” he said.
The weekend is the most violent period of the week as the study found violence-related attendance was most frequent on Saturday and Sunday.
The findings in previous years have been published in the Journal of Public Health and in the journal Injury.