How can Assault be Prevented?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may have been assaulted in the past or has questions around the topic:

What is Assault? Definitions & Meanings
Who Commits Assault & Why?
What counts as Assault?
How to Report Assault (and Who to Report it to)
How is Assault Proven in Court?
Punishment & Sentencing for Assault
How to Heal and Recover from Assault
What Impact Does Assault Have on Victims, Families & Friends?
What Effects Does Assault Have on Wider Society?
How can Assault be Prevented?
Assault Data & Statistics
Assault Helplines, Support & Further Reading

Assault crimes are a serious problem and can have lasting effects on the victims, their family and friends and the community.

In order to prevent assault it is important to understand the risk and protective factors at the individual, community and societal levels.

In this guide we will discuss the different strategies and approaches that can be used to help prevent assault.

What to do if I witness someone being assaulted?

The first step would be to report the incident/s to the police, you can do this by going to your local police station or by calling 101. It would involve providing a detailed statement of what happened. Alternatively you may wish to report a crime but choose to remain anonymous in which case you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Should I confront the assaulter or intervene to protect the victim?

It is important not put yourself in a position where you are at risk of harm by the assaulter. Whilst you are wanting helping the victim, ensure you have some safety measures in place for yourself. Remember in case of emergency, call 999 and ask for the police.

What can be done to reduce assault in the UK?

Understanding and considering risk factors and protective factors is key in the reduction and prevention of assault crimes. An individual’s behaviour will be influenced by the following;

  • The individual
  • Relationships
  • Community
  • Society

Each of these will present certain risk and protective factors of influence over the individual. Risk factors are characteristics, variables or hazards which make it more likely for some individuals to have a tendency towards violence. Protective factors decrease the probability of that person engaging in violent behaviour. An example of this is a child growing up in a loving caring family environment would be less likely to resort to violence than one who experiences or witnesses violence at home.

It is very important to have awareness in education around the risk and protective factors that can influence individual behaviour. Helping people to understand how they can play their part in influencing the attitudes and mind-sets of people at risk of resorting to violence in a positive way. When people are well informed about something they are equipped with the tools to deal with situations. Education and awareness around this topic should be encouraged by talking about it, whether it be at home, schools or in the community, talking is the first step in recognising a problem.

Setting up a Neighbourhood Watch may help reduce assault crime, this involves the local community working in partnership with the police focusing on reducing crime and making it possible for people to report incidents without fear of retaliation.

Having a good strong legal framework may help reduce assault crime, offenders need to know their actions can result in serious consequences which can affect their life, whether it be a prison sentence or a police record. Victims need to know they have a legal right to protection from being assaulted.

What can be done to reduce assault worldwide?

In order to create a society in which people feel safe requires the understanding of safety as a human right and public good that needs to be protected. It is important to address the root cause of the problem (please refer to the above for discussion on the risk and protective factors). Governments should invest in violence prevention strategies, aiming to discourage or violent behaviour before it develops by identifying the factors that can lead to violence and then trying to address them. Examples of how this can be achieved includes;

  • Public information and awareness raising campaigns
  • Educational programmes
  • Early-childhood interventions
  • Legislative and policy frameworks

Building trust between the communities and police has worked well in the reduction of crime across the world, in Brazil community-oriented policing contributed to a massive crime drop. Better street lighting and more police on the streets are just some of the ways society is able to live in crime-free environments.

What can be done to stop violent offenders from repeat behaviour?

Toughening the punishments for offenders may deter offenders from repeat behaviour. However rehabilitation programmes for violent offenders may be more effective by making them confront their violent and criminal behaviour, this may include counselling and anger management. For example if an offender has anger issues and is being violent because of uncontrollable anger then anger management classes may help.  However, the offender may have deeper underlying issues that may need to be addressed through counselling, counselling focuses on the power/control philosophy and accepting responsibility, whereas anger management focuses on learning to channel the anger in a healthy manner. 

How can you avoid or reduce your likelihood of being assaulted?

Here are some ways to help avoid or reduce your chances of being assaulted;

  • Self-defence classes can improve your ability to avoid physical conflict and defend yourself
  • Keep your phone with you at all times and make sure it always charged before leaving home
  • Always tell a family member or a close friend if you are planning to go out
  • Be aware of your surroundings, avoid poorly lit areas
  • If you are being followed, go to a well-lit area where there are other people, ask for help
  • Avoid headphones when you are out alone
  • Try using ATMs during daylight and be aware if there is anyone behind you.

Please note this list is not exhaustive and there will be many other ways in increasing your safety and of those that you care about.

What should I do if in a scenario where I fear I may be assaulted?

It will be very difficult or impossible to think clearly when you are in a situation like this. If the offender detects any sign of you seeking help, it could make the situation worse. Look out for a way to escape safely, a few moments of this space could be enough to make a call to the police on 999. You may be able to ask for help if there are people nearby.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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