Why family violence investigations continue to rise

Published: Tue 30 Jun 2015 11:02 AM
Why family violence investigations continue to rise & the solution
The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse (NZFVC) data summaries released today report statistics from government and non-government agencies. According to the data, police conducted 101,981 family violence investigations in 2014. Thirty-seven percent of those investigations led to an offence being recorded. Of the 7163 recorded male assaults female offences in 2014, 82 percent were resolved - a decrease from 93 percent in 2008.
Jill Proudfoot, Shine Client Services Director, says,
“The statistics are important in that they do clearly show that the problem is massive, but we know they only represent a fraction of what’s really happening out there. The statistics do not actually tell us whether prevalence is increasing or decreasing.
It is highly likely that any increase in police family violence investigations is simply a result of an increase in reporting. From Shine’s perspective, we continue to have far more demand for our services than we are able to meet.”
Shine acknowledges that the NZ Police are working really hard to improve their response to family violence, and Shine fully supports those efforts. For example, Police recently released an outcomes report on Police Safety Orders which had a number of recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness of those orders that they are following up on.
The effectiveness of police response is also very much tied in with other parts of the system. For example, evidence rules under current Prosecution Guidelines make the threshold of evidence very high for Police bringing cases to court. These rules are a barrier to consistent and effective enforcement of family violence offences.
In the bigger picture, New Zealand needs as many people as possible – in government, government agencies, the health sector, schools, and throughout the community – to recognise just how serious the problem is and be willing to get involved and be part of the solution.
Jill says,
“When people know or suspect domestic abuse is happening, they need to speak up, ring 111, offer support to the victim, get involved. Beyond the criminal justice system, healthcare organisations should be routinely screening their patients for family violence and referring to specialist services. Employers need HR policies to clarify support for employees who are experiencing family violence, and training for their HR staff and managers. Schools need policies and training for their staff as well.
And beyond all of these ways that people can address the issue, individuals can also be part of the solution by supporting Shine to help us meet more of the demand for our services from people who need our help to become safe.”

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