Injury records from Emergency Departments (EDs) have been studied over the last decade as part of the work of the National Violence Surveillance Network (NVSN) and provide information about local, regional and national violence levels and trends in England and Wales. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate overall, gender, age-specific and regional trends in community violence in England and Wales from an ED perspective from January 2005 to December 2009.
Violence-related injury data were collected prospectively in a stratified sample of 77 EDs (Types 1, 3 and 4) in the nine Government Office Regions in England and in Wales. All 77 EDs were recruited on the basis that they had implemented and continued to comply with the provisions of the 1998 Data Protection Act and Caldicott guidance. Attendance date, age and gender of patients who reported injury in violence were identified using assault-related attendance codes, specified at the local level. Time series statistical methods were used to detect both regional and national trends.
In total 221,673 (163,384 males: 74%) violence-related attendances were identified. Overall estimated annual injury rate was 6.5 per 1000 resident population (males 9.8 and females 3.4 per 1000). Violence affecting males and females decreased significantly in England and Wales over the 5-year period, with an overall estimated annual decrease of 3% (95% CI: 1.8-4.1%, p < 0.05). Attendances decreased significantly for both genders across four out of the five age groups studied. Attendances were found to be highest during the months of May and July and lowest in February. Substantial differences in violence-related ED attendances were identified at the regional level.
From this ED perspective overall violence in England and Wales decreased over the period 2005-2009 but increased in East Midlands, London and South West regions. Since 2006, overall trends according to Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), police and ED measures were similar, though CSEW and ED measures reflect far greater numbers of violent incidents than police data. Causes of decreases in violence in regions need to be identified and shared with regions where violence increased.