Serious violence spikes sharply after anti-COVID measures loosen

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from Cardiff University have presented a report that the number of cases of serious violence has increased by almost a quarter after the lifting of part of the restrictions due to Covid-19 in England and Wales.

The authors of the study are a university group that studies violence (Violence Research Group, or VRG). They estimate that in 2021, 146,856 people visited the emergency room due to violence-related injuries. This is 23% more than in 2020. Violence peaked in August 2021, reaching pre-pandemic levels, according to VRG’s 21st annual report.

This figure is the largest annual increase since registration began in 2001. Overall rates of serious violence in 2021 were lower than in the years before the coronavirus pandemic. Long-term trends show a steady decline.

Despite concerns that covid restrictions may have increased the risk of serious violence for women and girls, the researchers found no evidence of this.

The authors of the report also looked at violence in Scotland for the first time, with an estimated 8,549 people seeking emergency care for injuries in 2021.

“The post-quarantine easing of covid restrictions in England and Wales correlates with the biggest increase in serious violence in a single year since our records began 21 years ago,” said Professor Jonathan Shepherd, co-author of the report.

“Our data is the only overall indicator of severe violence during the pandemic. They show how restrictions have affected levels of violence throughout this period. The results also indicate where the hotspots of violence are that are a priority for prevention.

For example, it is possible to pre-target police resources more precisely at these points. Without such detailed information, the police are blind to when and where half of these cases of serious violence occur.”

VRG analyzed data from 74 emergency departments in England and Wales. They found that from January 1 to December 31, 2021, 146,856 people applied there due to injuries. In 2020, during the same period, there were 27,745 fewer victims of violence.

An increase in the number of victims was revealed in all age groups. Among children aged 0-10 years, it was + 42%, among adolescents aged 11-17 years – + 20%, among young people aged 18-30 years – + 29%, among people aged 31-50 years – + 20%, among people older 50 years old – +16%.

The largest percentage of victims was found among men (3.38 per 1000 inhabitants), which is almost twice as high as the percentage of women affected. In addition, in the group of 18-30 years old, the number of victims was six per 1,000 inhabitants.

Despite an increase compared to the lockdown period, overall rates of serious violence in 2021 were lower than before the pandemic. For example, figures in 2021 were 24% lower than in 2017 and 49% lower than in 2011.

According to Professor Shepard, based on the government’s 2019 assessment of the contribution of public health to violence prevention, even if only 5% of public safety partnerships used certain data collected in emergency departments, the savings over 10 years would be almost a billion pounds.

Using this data to build work is a proven strategy known as the Cardiff Model. “Serious violence is preventable, it’s not inevitable,” Shepard concluded.

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