Murder rates would be up to five times higher than they are but for medical developments over the past 40 years.
According to new research, doctors are saving the lives of thousands of victims of attack who four decades ago would have died and become murder statistics.
Although the study is based on US data, the researchers say the principle applies to other countries too: “There is reason to expect a similar trend overall in Britain,” said Dr Anthony Harris, the lead author of the study.
In the research he and a team from Massachusetts University and Harvard Medical School found that technological developments had helped to significantly depress today’s murder rates, converting homicides into aggravated assaults.
“Without this technology, we estimate there would be no less than 50 000 and as many as 115000 homicides annually instead of an actual 15 000 to 20000,” they say in a report of the study in the journal Homicide Studies (2002;6:128-66).