BOLTON health experts have backed claims that the long-term fall in violent crime is partly due to the increase in alcohol prices.

The number of people injured due to serious violence dropped by 12 per cent in 2013, according to a Cardiff University study.

It found 235,000 people were treated following a violent attack in 2013 — 32,800 fewer than the previous year.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, lead author of the study, said a change in alcohol habits since 2008 could be one reason for the continued reduction.

Dr Kieran Moriarty, a gastroenterologist specialising in alcohol-related illnesses at the Royal Bolton, agreed there was a link between violence and alcohol pricing.

He said: “The pricing of alcohol will always affect consumption. If the price goes up, people will drink less alcohol. The link is simple.

“There are a number of measures of this link — the NHS, crime and social disorder, work place absence and family networks.

“If the price goes up, people will drink less and there will be less social disorder.

“This is one of the main arguments for the minimum pricing of alcohol.”

Professor Shepherd added: “Binge drinking has become less frequent and the proportion of youths who don’t drink alcohol at all has risen sharply.

“Also, after decades in which alcohol has become more affordable, it has now, since 2008, become less affordable.

“For people most prone to involvement in violence, those aged 18 to 30, falls in disposable income are probably an important factor.”

The Cardiff University study looked at treatment given to victims at 117 emergency departments, minor injury units and NHS walk-in centres. Violence among men decreased by 19.1 per cent, compared to 14.1 per cent of women.

Injuries among young adults is down by 14 per cent, but the report found those most at risk of getting injuries from serious violence were males aged 18 to 30.

The authors said that anti-violence strategies involving local public agencies working closely together could also be yielding results.

In March, licensees, door staff, taxi firms, CCTV operators, police, Bolton Council and Bolton Street Angels announced a partnership to attract more families and older people to the town centre in the evenings.

The changes include minimum alcohol prices in town centre establishments, a dress code to enter bars, taxi marshals and temporary road closures.