Violence is seasonal

February 21, 2001

Trends in community violence in England and Wales 1995-8: an accident and emergency department perspective 2001; 18: 105-9

Violence is seasonal, peaking in late summer and at its lowest ebb in spring, shows an audit published in the Emergency Medicine Journal. Violence towards women has also been increasing.

Data on community violence were collected from a random sample of 33 accident and emergency departments across England and Wales between 1995 and 1998. The episodes were broken down into age groups, gender and time.

Over 121,000 assaults were recorded. Almost three quarters were sustained by men, with almost half of these among men aged 18 to 30. Men over 50 were at lowest risk.

The numbers of women sustaining injuries from violence significantly increased over the three years, particularly among those between 31 and 50. The authors suggest that more women may be being assaulted in public places following decreases in reported domestic violence.

The frequency of assaults for both men and women and across all age groups and most areas of England and Wales followed what the researchers call a biphasic pattern. The highest number of assaults occurred between July and September, and the lowest number between February and April.

The evidence suggests that 95 per cent of those who are assaulted are treated in accident and emergency departments, while up to 10 times the amount of violence occurs in the community than is reported to the police. So the authors say that hospital data are likely to be an accurate reflection of national trends in violence.

Dr Vas Sivarajasingham, Department of Oral Surgery, Medicine and Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, Wales.

BMJ Specialty Journals

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