De aling with dome s tic vi­o­lence

Central Leader - - News -

B y J a n i e S m i t h When it comes to fi ght­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, se­nior sergeant Vaughn Gra­ham knows it’s a prob­lem the po­lice alone can’t solve.

That’s why a large part of his role as fam­ily vi­o­lence co­or­di­na­tor in­volves work­ing with other so­cial agen­cies to tackle the is­sue on all fronts.

“We look at the whole pic­ture. Fam­ily vi­o­lence is an is­sue po­lice are pas­sion­ate about,” he says.

Based at Auck­land cen­tral sta­tion, Mr Gra­ham is the co­or­di­na­tor for the whole Auck­land area, a role he took on in July.

For the past three years he su­per­vised the Auck­land fam­ily safety team, made up of the po­lice and agen­cies that deal with fam­ily vi­o­lence.

Orig­i­nally from New South Wales, he in­ves­ti­gated sev­eral fam­ily vi­o­lence-re­lated homi­cides and de­cided to carry on in the field.

“It’s one of the more chal­leng­ing things to deal with.”

Po­lice are called to around 5000 do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dents in Auck­land city each year and re­ports in­crease around Christ­mas, when fam­i­lies are most vul­ner­a­ble.

“The full ex­tent is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine be­cause of un­der-re­port­ing,” Mr Gra­ham says.

“Peo­ple are too scared or re­luc­tant for other rea­sons to dis­cuss what’s hap­pen­ing. A lot of it goes back to shame, em­bar­rass­ment or fear.

“We ac­cept we’re only deal­ing with a smaller per­cent­age of the fam­ily vi­o­lence oc­cur­ring.”

Po­lice have de­vel­oped more re­sources for deal­ing with fam­ily vi­o­lence.

They in­clude a new re­port form filled out by po­lice at the scene which has body maps for mark­ing in­juries.

A ded­i­cated fam­ily vi­o­lence court is held three days a week at the Auck­land District Court with its own judge, where of­fend­ers are of­fered help to deal with their is­sues.

Po­lice have Asian, north African, Maori and Pa­cific Is­land li­ai­son of­fi­cers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives to help ed­u­cate dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr Gra­ham also trains front line staff.

“It’s a fairly busy area in terms of work be­ing done on in­ves­ti­ga­tions and at­ten­dance at scenes. The ma­jor­ity of the work is done by front line staff.”

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence can en­com- pass a range of of­fences, from homi­cide to ver­bal dis­putes be­tween fam­ily mem­bers.

A new fam­ily vi­o­lence pack­age put out na­tion­ally by the po­lice prose­cu­tion ser­vice helps clar­ify what charges are ap­pro­pri­ate for of­fences.

But for po­lice to lay charges, peo­ple need to re­port vi­o­lence.

“The mes­sage we are keen for peo­ple to pick up is if you’ve seen some­thing or are aware of some­thing, don’t take it for granted that the po­lice know about it. “ If in doubt, ring the po­lice.” With the hol­i­day sea­son ap­proach­ing, he ad­vises fam­i­lies to pre­pare in ad­vance to re­duce stress.

Pre­vent­ing Vi­o­lence in the Home ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Jane Drumm says the or­gan­i­sa­tion has a long stand­ing work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the Auck­land city po­lice.

“They’ve done a lot of work to en­sure they work closely with com­mu­nity groups so we can all pro­vide dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on cases and use our skills to en­sure we get the best re­sults.”

Po­lice call Pre­vent­ing Vi­o­lence in the Home when­ever they make a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ar­rest so the or­gan­i­sa­tion can pro­vide sup­port for the vic­tims.

To re­port or dis­cuss do­mes­tic vi­o­lence con­tact the po­lice, Pre­vent­ing Vi­o­lence in the Home on 0508-384-357 or Women’s Refuge cri­sis line on 0800-456-450.

Photo: JANIE SMITH

Te am e ffo r t:

Fam i l y v i o l e n c e c o o r d i n a t o r Va u g h n G ra h a m , r ig h t , a n d fa m i l y v i o l e n c e a d m i n i s t ra t o r C h a r i t y Ku p f u wa m - h a n d u .

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