Violent crimes recorded by the police rose by 11% in the last quarter of last year, Home Office figures show.
Much of the rise is attributed to low-level drunken violence
The government said much of the increase was due to greater reporting and recording of low-level thuggery - which rose by 21%.
Overall crime levels remain stable, the figures show.
The Home Office has unveiled a plan to deal with binge-drinking in town and city centres, which ministers say is responsible for much of the crime.
Overall there were 271,500 incidents of violent crime recorded by police in England and Wales from October to December 2003.
More serious violent crimes such as homicide and serious wounding rose by 13%, compared to the same quarter in 2002, while "less serious" violent crime such as assaults was up 21% to 106,000 incidents.
The Home Office attribute much of the rise to low-level drunken violence where no-one is injured.
They also say people are more willing to report certain crimes such as sexual assaults, which are up by 6%.
Total crime remained stable with 1,452,600 incidents recorded over three months.
Home Office minister Hazel Blears said the figures were encouraging.
"Crime overall is stable and I am pleased that crimes such as burglary, robbery and vehicle crime are continuing to fall significantly.
"But it is clear from these figures that crime trends are changing.
"There are increases in violent crime and, as our research on violent crime makes clear, this needs to be put into context."
The Home Office estimates alcohol is the root cause of around half of all violent crime, and connected to 70% of late-night admissions to hospital emergency rooms.
To help deal with the problem, Ms Blears said police would be carrying out sting operations to tackle shops and clubs selling to underage drinkers.
CHANGE IN CRIME RATES: Q4 2002 - Q4 2003
The British Crime Survey is based on interviews with the public
Recorded crime represents incidents reported to the police