If inequalities are to be reduced, it is critical that risks are identified early on in their development and, where possible, action is taken to lessen their impact on health and wellbeing. This requires services to actively seek out groups of people known to be at heightened risk, as they may be the ones least likely to seek help from services or participate in health programmes. The earlier that these risks can be identified and preventative measures put in place, the better the outcomes for health and wellbeing.
As well as impacting on biological health, society, in the form of crime and antisocial behaviour, affects health in a number of ways, directly and indirectly and by influences on the healthcare system:
- Directly, through violence, injury, rape and other offences against the person.
- Indirectly, through the psychological and physical consequences of injury, victimisation and isolation because of fear.
- As a determinant of illness, along with poverty and other inequalities, which increases the burden of ill health on those communities least able to cope.
- By causing preventable health burdens, such as alcohol-related crime, motor vehicle incidents and drug dependency.