Background: Although glasses and bottles are frequently used as weapons in assaults, there is little knowledge on which prevention strategies can be based.
Design: Scrutiny of a random sample of 1288 criminal injury compensation applications.
Objective: To identify predictors and relative severity of glass and bottle injury.
Method: Injury site, severity, treatment, and demographic characteristics of victims and assailants were studied with reference to awards from the UK national Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
Main outcome measures: Gender of victims and assailants, injury sites, treatment, and award (UK pounds) as indices of injury severity.
Results: Annual CICA awards to all victims of assaults in licensed premises during 1996–98 amounted to £4.08 million (for all glass/bottle assaults: £1.15 million = 28%). The mean cost of 746 glass assaults was £2347, compared with £2007 for 542 injuries from bottle assaults (mean difference £340; p<0.01). This difference largely reflected more eye injuries with glasses (26 cases: 3% of all glass assaults) than with bottles (eight cases: 1% of all bottle assaults).
Bottle assault was significantly associated with unidentified assailants and scalp injuries; whereas glass injury was significantly linked to pub opening hours (midday to midnight), Thursdays, eye and face injuries, and treatment requiring sutures.
Mean age of bottle assault victims (26.1 years) was lower than of glass victims (27.3 years; p<0.01), and same gender assaults were more frequent than between gender assaults for both bottle (p<0.001) and glass (p<0.001) assaults. Female victims were allocated to lower compensation awards more frequently than male victims; this was the case for both bottle (p<0.05) and glass (p<0.01) assaults.
Conclusions: Assaults with bottles caused less serious injury and resulted in lower compensation costs. Injury distribution was linked to victim gender and weapon choice, but not to assailant gender. Prevention strategies should focus on both bottle and glass assaults and should take account of the setting and time in which drinking occurs.