An assault is when a person makes you feel that immediate violence will be used against you or when they do use violence against you. There are different assault offences depending on the level of injury and intention to cause harm. Sometimes the assault is carried out by someone you know and this makes it hard to report. Some people often minimise their experience of being assaulted and either don’t report it to the Police or change their mind during an investigation. Gwent Police is committed to having safe communities that feel protected and reassured where people feel happy, healthy and safe. We encourage people to help us tackle any form of violence including assault.

What is Common Assault?

Common Assault is an act that is done intentionally or recklessly that causes a person to feel under immediate threat of injury or violence.  An example of this is a car being deliberately driven at a person in order to make them feel that they would be run over and hurt.

When a person applies unlawful force on another and they do so intentionally or recklessly this is known as a battery, although it is also commonly referred to as an assault.   This could be a slap or a push. More severe injuries will be considered as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) or Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)

The maximum penalty for common assault/battery is 6 months imprisonment. In many cases the penalty is a caution or a fine. The penalty will depend on many factors including the offending history of the person committing the offence and their intention at the time of the assault.

What is Actual Bodily Harm?

Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) is when the action causes physical harm to a person’s body. Harm such as scratches, bruises and bite marks are examples of Actual Bodily Harm. If the injuries are not considered to be serious, nor has the person intended to cause serious harm, then the charging decision and the possible punishment will be made for an offence of Common Assault. Offences charged with Actual Bodily harm are considered when there has been a serious injury.

The penalty for Actual Bodily Harm ranges from a fine to a maximum imprisonment of 5 years. The decision for this will depend on the offender’s intention, their previous offending history and level of harm and injury caused.

What is Grievous Bodily Harm?

Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) is when the victim is inflicted or wounded with very serious injury such as being stabbed. It is also known as a Section 18 or 20 offences.  It is the most serious form of assault a person can commit.

The maximum penalty for Grievous Bodily Harm is life imprisonment but the sentence will very much depend on the intention to cause harm, the level of violence and injury caused along with the offender’s previous offending history.

Report it

If you ever witness an assault taking place, you should dial 999 immediately.

To report an assault which has already happened, you are able to call 101 or visit a Police Station in person.

People can be affected by any level of harm caused to them. If you want support (whether or not you have reported it to the Police) you can contact Connect Gwent for support.