Going clubbing three or more times a week triples a person’s experiences of violence from strangers and acquaintances, says new research from Nottingham Trent University.
Going to clubs once or twice weekly, using cannabis and being divorced or separated are the other key factors likely to increase the number of experiences of some kind of violent assault by a stranger or acquaintance. And some risk factors differ: men, for example, experience 170% more incidents of violence from strangers than women.
This insight into who experiences most stranger/acquaintance violence results from research why crime rates – including violent crimes – have fallen dramatically in England and Wales over the last two decades.
"According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales," says Professor Andromachi Tseloni, "acquaintance violence fell by 73% from 1995 to 2013 (for 16-24 year olds the fall was 83%) while stranger violence dropped by 43% between 2002/3 and 2013/14. Interestingly the 'crime drop' has not touched repeat victims of violence.
"Rather, the drop is most clearly seen among 16-24-year-olds and people who in the 1990s might have had just one experience of stranger or acquaintance violence within a year," she says.
The current fall in young people, particularly men, going to clubs and pubs in the evening could explain some of the trend, suggests further research by Dr Laura Garius. An increase in the numbers of older clubbers and pub-goers may be resulting in a more balanced and less 'testosterone-fuelled' night-time economy.
A gentrification of city centres with more sitting down drinking venues which also offer food or snacks, or night bus schemes, are other possible explanations. But further work is required, say researchers, to answer questions arising from the study such as why separated/divorced people experience more non-domestic violence or why those living in social housing face more violence from acquaintances but not strangers.
Recommendations from the study include a greater focus on licensing policies for clubs and pubs that encourage good practice for violence prevention as well as raising awareness via drug counselling services of the significantly increased risks and frequency of stranger/acquaintance violence faced by drug users.