Police family violence investigations reached a record high in 2016, statistics released today show. Police investigated 118,910 incidents of family violence last year, an increase of more than 8000 on the year before.
This is up from 110,126 in 2015 and 101,955 in 2014, according to the new statistics from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, based at the University of Auckland.
“We don’t know whether this is due to an increase in violence or an increase in people coming forward. However it is clear that demand on services continues to increase,” Dr Pauline Gulliver from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse said.
Responding to family violence accounts for 41 percent of a frontline police officer’s time. “Intimate partner violence and child abuse do not just affect a few ‘vulnerable’ individuals, but are problems that need addressing in every community,” she said.
Dr Gulliver called for better resourcing for specialist family violence services and prevention programmes.
“Police and the criminal justice system have received increased funding for responding to family violence in the last 12 months, however this needs to be matched by resourcing for specialist family violence services and prevention programmes in the community.
“Currently just 1.5 percent of government spend goes on violence prevention.”
Dr Gulliver also questioned whether Police data on offences is accurately capturing the amount of family violence.
“In 2014-15, Police introduced a new data collection system which in theory improves our ability to see how much crime is family violence. However, this is currently compromised because the victim’s relationship to the offender is not being recorded in the majority of cases: in over half of physical assaults against women, and more than 80 percent of sexual assaults.
“We know from other research that the vast majority of assaults against women are carried out by partners, ex-partners, family members and others known to them. So we need to ask why the Police are not capturing this information.”
• Between 2009 and 2015, there were 194 family violence deaths, with intimate partner violence (IPV) deaths making up almost half of these (92 deaths). In 98 percent of IPV death events where there was a recorded history of abuse, women were the primary victim, abused by their male partner.
• One in three (35%) New Zealand women have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime. When psychological abuse is included, 55 percent have experienced IPV. In the year prior to the survey, 5 percent had experienced physical and/or sexual IPV. When psychological abuse was included, 18 percent had experienced one or more forms of IPV in the last year.
• In 2015/16, Women’s Refuge received about 73,000 crisis calls. 11,062 women accessed advocacy services in the community. 2,446 women and children stayed in safe houses.
• In 2016, 5,461 applications were made for protection orders. 89 percent were made by women and 10 percent by men.
• In 2016, there were 2,708 reported sexual assault victimisations against an adult over 16 years.
• In 2015/16, Child, Youth and Family received 142,249 Care and Protection notifications. 44,689 were deemed to require further action, leading to 16,394 findings of abuse or neglect.
• In 2015, NZ Police recorded 10 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member. 63 children aged 16 years or under were hospitalised for an assault perpetrated by a family member.
The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse (nzfvc.org.nz) is the national centre for family and whānau violence research and information. It is funded by Superu, managed by Auckland UniServices Ltd. and hosted by the University of Auckland.
The data summaries will be available from https://nzfvc.org.nz/data-summaries at 6am on Tuesday 27 June.