Fam­ily vi­o­lence is­sue for all

South Taranaki Star - - STARS PAST - CATHER­INE GROENESTEIN

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.’’

CATHER­INE GROENESTEIN

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.

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