Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Fix for scourge a 10-20 year process

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There is no silver bullet, quick fix, single piece of legislation or police action that can tackle the problem. Photo / Thinkstock
There is no silver bullet, quick fix, single piece of legislation or police action that can tackle the problem. Photo / Thinkstock

Family violence is the biggest crime type in New Zealand and costs us between $4 and $7 billion each year. Our front line police spend more than 40 per cent of their time responding to family violence incidents and every few minutes someone calls a crisis line asking for help.

Police attended 105,000 family violence incidents last year, and that's only the 20 or so per cent that were reported.

Family violence is an epidemic in New Zealand. So what is the solution?

There is no easy answer to that question. There is no silver bullet, quick fix, single piece of legislation or police action that can tackle the problem.

Whatever we do will take time - experts suggest up to 20 years - and a lot of hard work until we see a real difference.

"We've got to be really bold, we have to acknowledge the truths of this and be brave. We have to try new things. The harsh reality is that we are already getting things wrong and people are getting hurt.

We can do better," said Superintendent Tusha Penny, national crime prevention manager for the police.

"Our challenge is to make people as safe in their homes as they are on the street. All New Zealanders have a fundamental right to live in their homes and be safe.

"Family violence is predictable, it's stoppable. We can make a difference. There are groups of people doing really good stuff, but there is no national framework. We have a pile of information, but we don't know what to do with it."

The "good stuff" included, but is not limited to, changes to the way police responded to and dealt with family violence; a government review and overhaul relevant legislation; a proposal to new family violence-specific offences and the introduction of the Integrated Safety Response model, which allows government and NGOs to respond collectively.

Part of the ISR model is an "intensive case management process" for high-risk cases meaning police and agencies can work on the same page to respond to situations.

"I really believe if we get this right, we are on the cusp of a huge transformation," Ms Penny said.

"If we miss this opportunity, it's a big deal. There's no silver bullet, this is a 10-20 year commitment.

"We've got to commit to making a long-term change and changing the entire landscape around family violence."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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