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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 March, 2003, 01:38 GMT
Pub fights 'cost 4m a year'
Girl drinking beer from bottle
Assaults with bottles caused less severe injury
People injured in pub fights are awarded 4m in compensation each year, researchers have found.

Glasses and bottles are the most common weapons used in such brawls.

Victims often sustain injuries to their eyes, necks and heads.

The researchers say the alcohol industry should contribute to the cost of compensation.

In addition, they suggest it should consider introducing glasses and bottles made of plastic.

Even though toughened glassware has been increasingly used over the last decade, injuries from glasses and bottles continue to be the most common weapons used in violent assaults in the UK.

Drinks continue to be sold in glass bottles, many of which are used as weapons
Professor Jonathan Shepherd, University Dental Hospital and School, Cardiff,
Researchers from the Violence Research Group at the University Dental Hospital and School, Cardiff, analysed 152,000 claims made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) between 1996 and 1998.

They found 15,217 related to assaults in licensed premises, of which 3,706 involved injuries specifically caused by glasses and bottles.

Over the two-year period the CICA paid out over 8m in compensation to victims of bar brawls, 2.3m of which was paid to victims of glass or bottle assaults.

Eye injuries

The analysis found claims involving glasses were more serious, and linked to higher payouts, than those involving bottles.

The average cost of the 746 glass assaults was 2,347 compared with 2,007 for the 542 from bottle injuries.

Awards for assaults involving glasses were three times more likely to include compensation for eye injuries than those involving bottles.

Researchers also found significantly more women attacked other women than expected.

But women were less likely to receive large payouts because they were less likely to receive facial injuries.

Unknown assailants were almost twice as likely to attack with bottles than glasses, and bottles were four times more likely to be used to club the victim on the head.

People injured in assaults using bottles were, on average, younger than those injured with glasses, which researchers said could be linked to the greater popularity of alcopops among that group.


Writing in the journal Injury Prevention, the researchers led by Professor Jonathan Shepherd, said: "Drinks continue to be sold in glass bottles, many of which are used as weapons, when suitable and much safer alternatives - plastic bottles - are available.

"Overall, compensation awards from the public purse to victims injured in only one setting - licensed premises - are substantial and very largely preventable.

"Therefore, it can be argued that the alcohol industry - particularly licensed premises management - should compensate the public purse for all or a proportion of this expenditure.

"This step would of course, prevent a powerful incentive to prevent violence."

Replacing glass with plastic would help reduce injuries, and the subsequent physical and financial costs, they add.

Conditioning process

A spokeswoman for the British Beer and Pubs Association told BBC News Online: "When someone is violent and aggressive, and wants to cause a fight, they will pick up anything that's at hand.

"If they didn't have a glass or bottle, they would pick up something else."

She said it was not the publican who was responsible for such assaults.

"It's the behaviour of the individual which is at fault."

She added that the association did not back plans to move to using plastic bottles: "In a lot of circumstances, the glass bottle is an integral part of the conditioning process of the beer."

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