The north-south divide in the number of violence-related injuries may be caused by men trying to “establish a strong masculine identity”, according to Cardiff University.
Researchers say the North’s comparatively poor levels of health and prosperity and high levels of drinking among young adults could also be the cause of the gap.
Between 2010 and the end of 2014, the North West saw 6.8 violence-related injuries per 1,000 residents and Yorkshire and the Humber 5.5, compared with 3.6 in London and 3.1 in the South East.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd, a co-author of the report, said: “Violence rates in northern regions are higher than in the rest of England and Wales.”
He added: “Reasons for demographic variations in violence are likely to be multifactorial and complex but may include violence as a means to establish a strong masculine identity, higher levels of alcohol consumption among young adults compared with other age groups and north–south inequalities in health and prosperity.
For example, it is known that intoxication increases the risk of injury by rendering people less physically capable, less likely to make sensible decisions in high-risk environments and more likely to walk home alone.
“Reasons for the national decline in violence-related injury and for regional variation over the study period are not clear. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that public health interventions may be contributory.”
Figures collated by Cardiff University’s Violence Research Group between January 2010 and December 2014 show a 13.8 per cent average annual reduction in violence across the five-year period.
For the first time, the research provides a regional breakdown of violence-related injury rates in England and Wales.
The findings are published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and based on a sample of data from 151 A&Es, minor injury units and walk-in centres.
All but two of the ten regions studied showed a significant decrease in hospital treatment following violence over the five years.
The months of May and July consistently stood out as times when serious violence was most common, whereas February was the quietest month.
Professor Shepherd said: “Our study is very encouraging in demonstrating a consistent and substantial decline in violence in England and Wales, including among children.
“There is increasing evidence to suggest that this decline can be attributed in part to public health interventions and improved information-sharing between health services, police and local government.
“This joined-up approach continues to provide intelligence that is used to improve targeted policing, enhance weapon control and bring about better alcohol licensing.
“But there remain areas of concern. The data show that young males aged 18-30 are still the group most likely to be injured in violence and that violence rates in northern regions are higher than in the rest of England and Wales.”