Author Kirin Hilliar
Published July 2008
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 116
Subject Assault; Policing
Keywords Assault, hospitals, trends, violence, police

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The aims of this bulletin are twofold. The first is to characterise the police-recorded hospital assaults that occurred in 2006. The second is to analyse trends in the characteristics of hospital assaults between 1996 and 2006 to investigate whether any changes in these features can help account for the upward trend.


Between 1996 and 2006 in NSW, there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of police-recorded assaults occurring on hospital premises. Many features of hospital assaults remained stable across this time period. On any given day of the week, most hospital assaults occurred between 3-9pm. Both the person of interest (POI) and the victim were most often male, with the POI (average age of 32.0 years) slightly younger than the victim (average age of 35.9 years). In over two-thirds of all hospital assaults, the victim was previously unknown to the POI (i.e. stranger assaults). In situations where the POI and victim were unknown to each other, the victim was most often either a hospital staff member or police officer. In contrast, where the victim was either a patient or visitor, they were more likely to be assaulted by someone they knew (e.g. a friend or family member). However, from 1996 to 2006 there were also some notable changes, in particular a clear decrease in the proportion of recorded assaults that resulted in injuries to the victim, a significant increase in the number of mental health-related hospital assaults and a significant decrease in the proportion of alleged hospital assaults that resulted in legal proceedings.

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