Fam­ily vi­o­lence fig­ures don’t tell whole story

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

Work­ers at the front­line of fam­ily vi­o­lence say po­lice sta­tis­tics don’t paint the whole pic­ture.

Re­ported fam­ily vi­o­lence in­ci­dents in Auck­land re­mained the same last year com­pared to 2006, but na­tional fig­ures went up by nearly a quar­ter.

Crime fig­ures re­leased this week show 2426 fam­ily vi­o­lence in­ci­dents were re­ported to po­lice in 2007.

Pre­vent­ing Vi­o­lence in the Home part­ner­ships and train­ing man­ager Holly Car­ring­ton says the ser­vice has seen a rise more in line with the na­tional fig­ures.

“We def­i­nitely have a lot more high risk cases than we used to.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is in­formed ev­ery time the po­lice at­tend a fam­ily vi­o­lence in­ci­dent so they can pro­vide sup­port to the vic­tims.

Ms Car­ring­ton says they deal with 120 to 125 re­fer­rals from po­lice a week, which has risen from 90 to 100 re­fer­rals a week.

That’s on top of in­creas­ing re­fer­rals from other agen­cies like Child, Youth and Fam­ily and the Auck­land Dis­trict Health Board.

She says it’s hard to tell if the in­crease is be­cause of more aware­ness and re­port­ing, or more vi­o­lence.

“There’s no way to know for sure. We’ve al­ways known the cases re­ported to po­lice are a very small per­cent­age of the over­all pic­ture of fam­ily vi­o­lence.”

The rise in cases has stretched re­sources, and the or­gan­i­sa­tion did its own fundrais­ing to add two staff mem­bers to its ad­vo­cacy team to cover the gap.

Ms Car­ring­ton says the or­gan­i­sa­tion pri­ori­tises its re­sponse to cases based on risk fac­tors, like a his­tory of se­vere vi­o­lence, threats to kill or se­ri­ous drug use.

“Un­for­tu­nately that means when we get more re­fer­rals, we have to pri­ori­tise more and can only work with a smaller per­cent­age of cases.”

She says fam­ily vi­o­lence is still a hid­den prob­lem.

“We are nowhere near turn­ing the cor­ner in re­duc­ing the amount of fam­ily vi­o­lence.”

Auck­land Women’s Refuge chair­woman Max­ine Rev­ell says the Grey Lynn cen­tre is al­ways full to ca­pac­ity.

“We’re pretty stretched. We don’t have enough peo­ple on the ground to man­age what’s out there. It’s very rare that we are not full.”

Last year, it pro­vided ser­vices for 255 women and chil­dren.

She says the ris­ing cost of liv­ing puts un­due pres­sure and stress on fam­i­lies.

Auck­land city po­lice com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Noreen Hegarty says the steady fig­ures may be partly due to po­lice ef­forts put in place in 2006.

The fam­ily safety team was set up nearly two years ago and pro­cesses for deal­ing with fam­ily vi­o­lence com­plaints were re­vised, she says.

“There was a jump be­tween 2005 and 2006.

“The fig­ures re­flect that be­tween 2005 and 2007 the team was set up and the pro­cesses stream­lined.”

Ms Hegarty says not all do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is re­ported to po­lice – some peo­ple pre­fer to go to other ser­vices and or­gan­i­sa­tions in­stead.

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