Leading social scientists join forces to examine the drop in stranger and acquaintance violence

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Determining why there has been a decline in stranger and acquaintance violence in England, Wales and the EU over the last two decades will be the focus of a new research project led by Loughborough University.

The study by The Violence Trends Project, which is made up of national and international criminologists and sociologists from the UK, Canada and the Netherlands, will run until July 2016, and will identify changes in personal security and routine activities which might help to explain the decline, such as the growing trend for carrying a personal alarm.

National and international datasets[1] including the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) – formerly the British Crime Survey – and the International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS) will be analysed at a time when the urgency to gain insights about violence prevention have never been more prominent. Adding to this the recent public spending cuts and increasing austerity measures, the cost of violence to the UK economy is estimated at £13 billion annually[2].

While the majority of violence incidents involve strangers and acquaintances, the Office for National Statistics 2015 data shows that stranger violence has fallen by 45 per cent from 1 million offences at its peak in 1995 to 553,000 offences in 2013/14. And acquaintance violence has fallen by 73 per cent from 1.8 million offences at its peak in 1995 to 500,000 offences in 2013/14.

The project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Secondary Data Analysis Initiative, Phase 2, will identify measures that offer effective protection from violence and repeat violence overall, and to specific population sub-groups according to their socio-economic attributes and area of residence, such as, for example, inner city residents of different age groups, social classes, and income.

The work is being undertaken by principle investigator Andromachi Tseloni, Professor of Quantitative Criminology from the University’s Department of Social Sciences, along with Professor Graham Farrell, Simon Fraser University in Canada; Professor Nick Tilley, University College London; Dr Louise Grove, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Social Policy at Loughborough University; and Dr Soenita Ganpat, Research Associate in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University.

To this date, no systematic research has been undertaken in this area, which means there is a current knowledge gap that could be hindering opportunities for violence reduction not just in the UK, but across the world.

Professor Tseloni said: “We are embarking on a study which will help inform not only future research developments in criminology, but also national and international guidelines on violence prevention.

“Our recent research on the most successful and cost-effective burglary devices showed that small, affordable investments in home security can result in a large drop in burglaries in England and Wales. We hope that The Violence Trends Project will test whether similarly small, behavioural adaptations have the potential to save millions of people from violence incidents and empower communities in the process.”

For more information on The Violence Trends Project, click here.

[1] Covering 1992 to 2014.

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