Alcohol and violence

Violence rates higher where alcohol cheaper, say Cardiff researchers

A Cardiff (UK) team uncovers the true price of a pint

Gordon Brown’s recent tax hike of a penny on a pint of beer is good news for hospital casualty departments, according to Cardiff University researchers.

Their analysis of more than 350,000 assault related accident and emergency cases found that violence rates were highest in those regions where alcohol was cheapest.

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The study is the first to make a direct link between violence and the cost of alcohol.

It suggests that a 1% increase in the price of beer could mean 2,200 fewer assault victims in casualty every month in England and Wales.

The research was carried out Professor Kent Matthews of Cardiff Business School and Professor Jonathan Shepherd and Dr Vaseekaran Sivarajasingham, both in the Violence Research Group at the University’s School of Dentistry. Professor Shepherd is a longstanding Campaigner for non-glass bottles and glasses to be used in pubs and clubs.

The team analysed assault figures over five years from 58 major accident and emergency departments, linking them to regional beer price data from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

They found violence was more closely linked to alcohol prices than a range of other factors, including house prices, youth unemployment and ethnic population density.

The study, published in the International Journal of the Care of the Injured, also found assaults were common in the summer months and during major sporting events. Men were three times more likely to be attacked than women. Dr Sivarajasingham said: “The study shows that violence-related harm in England and Wales relates closely to alcohol prices.

“In practical terms raising alcohol prices, for example through taxation, may have a beneficial effect in reducing violence-related harm throughout England and Wales.”

Alcohol Alert (2006) is published by The Institute of Alcohol Studies an initiative of the Alliance House Foundation, www.ias.org.uk

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