Family violence issue for all
South Taranaki police have a plan to tackle the region’s high rate of family violence.
‘‘In South Taranaki last year there were 1350 family violence incidents and in New Plymouth it was 2200. If you consider the numbers and the size of population, we’re punching well above our weight,’’ Sergeant Dan White, who heads youth services and family violence in South Taranaki, said.
‘‘We’ve reinvigorated how we deal with family violence, we’re working closely with iwi and NGOs. Gone are the days when we would just attend a family violence call, deal with the situation and leave.
‘‘Now we have a specific family violence team that is covering all of South Taranaki.’’
Ha¯ wera-based Constable Nicola Howells was recently appointed as the district’s family violence officer to liaise with victims and families and other groups working with them.
The police were working very closely with iwi Nga¯ ti Ruanui and Nga¯ruahine and non-government organisations including the Te Ara Pae Trust.
‘‘We review every single family violence occurrence that police attend and police do follow up visits with these families, and refer them on to iwi or an NGO.
‘‘We’ve always had these referral options but now we have that more close-knit, working side-by-side relationship,’’ he said.
Front line officers were also passing on observations and possible referrals to Howells in their incident reports, he said.
‘‘The idea of the family violence team is work directly with families and build a rapport with victims,’’ he said.
‘‘They can be very suspicious of police, especially if they’re in a cycle where there are continous incidents and a lot that go unreported, they can be very sceptical and sometimes quite frightened.’’
Family violence could be linked to a lot of other issues, including drug and alcohol use, stress, unemployment and relationship problems, he said.
‘‘We are looking at the underlying issues in families to stop the recurring issues happening, which will assist the families and eventually reduce demand on police resources.’’
Initially it was being trialled for six months.
The results of the new strategy would take awhile to show up in official statistics, but they have seen anecdotal signs it was working, he said.
‘‘Family violence is not a police issue, it’s a community issue, so the more people involved with that, the better.’’
South Taranaki police have a new strategy for tackling family violence. Constable Nicola Howells, Sergeant Dan White (foreground, left) with Laura Maruera, Margaret Ririnui, Jenny Langford, Sue Lichtwark, Gwenyth Richards, Senior Constable Simon Howard, in front is Constable Rae Smith and Mark Wester.