Police-recorded assaults on hospital premises                


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Release Date: 11 September 2008

New research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has that the number of assaults on hospital premises is now falling after increasing substantially between 1996 and 2001.

The Bureau study provides a profile of assaults on hospital premises.

In over two-thirds of all hospital assaults, the victim is previously unknown to the POI (i.e. stranger assaults). In most of these cases, the victim is most often either a hospital staff member or police officer.

In contrast, where the victim is either a patient or visitor, they are more likely to have been assaulted by someone they know (e.g. a 'friend' or family member).

The majority of assaults on hospital premises do not involve weapons and usually result in either no or only minor physical injury to the victim.

The majority of offenders are male but a substantial minority (approximately 40 per cent) involve female offenders. Most of the victims are also male.

The average age of offenders is 32 years. The average age of victims is 36 years. The most common time of day for assault on hospital premises is between 3.00 and 9.00 PM. The most common day is Sunday.

One notable change between 1996 and 2006 is that the proportion of hospital assaults that were classified by police as mental health related increased, from 19.2 per cent in 1996 to 31.7 per cent in 2006.

The percentage of assaults resulting in injury, on the other hand, has decreased. Between 1996 and 2006, the proportion of recorded assaults that resulted in injury to the victim declined from 50.9 per cent to 24.1 per cent.

Not surprisingly, given the growing percentage of assaults apparently related to mental health problems, the proportion of assaults on hospital premises resulting in criminal charges has declined.

In 1996, 60.5 per cent of assaults on hospital premises resulted in the laying of criminal charges. The corresponding proportion in 2006 was 49.6 per cent.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 0419-494-408, 9231-9190.