Victims know their offenders in a large proportion of the country's violent crimes according to recent police figures, and two victim support services agree the links are under-reported.

Nationwide, victims knew offenders in 69 per cent of the 2313 acts intended to cause injury committed this June. In 44 per cent of cases, the offenders and victims were family.

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Two victim support service representatives say many more crimes where victims know their offenders are unreported.


Victim Support service delivery general manager, Angela Crawford said it was a "very sad fact" that so many offenders were known to their victims.

She said 87 per cent of Victim Support's referrals came from police with the remainder from individuals. Some of those individuals hadn't reported a number of incidents of domestic violence throughout their life.

Ms Crawford said Victim Support tried to market itself so people knew they were just a free and confidential phone call away and always available to talk about crime or abuse or to respond to queries.

Victim Support worked with people in crisis situations, assessing danger and needs and advising victims of the best steps to take.

It could also listen, provide information, refer victims to counselling services and help with police and court processes.

Women's Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury said police believed they only saw about 20 per cent of family violence.

"To encourage more reporting, we need to have victims convinced that they're going to be treated seriously when they do report and that something's going to happen."

Dr Jury said police were trying to boost their profile and performance in relation to family violence.


"You've only got to be treated poorly or have your concerns not taken seriously once and chances are you're unlikely to go back again."

Those who were concerned about relationships with family and friends should talk about their situation with police or an agency such as Women's Refuge. "Family violence, in particular, thrives best in silence and in secrecy."

Police figures show victims were known to their offenders in 38 per cent of New Zealand's 21 homicide and related offences this June. In two cases the victim and offender were family.

Bay of Plenty prevention manager, Inspector Steve Bullock said police had long known there was often an association between offenders and victims, particularly in terms of violence and sexual offending.

New ways of presenting crime statistics introduced last year provided police with a more detailed picture of the relationship between offenders and victims.

"The greater the understanding of those relationships, the more we can identify ways to work with the public and our partners to address the issues."

Mr Bullock said family violence was a priority for police. It often went unreported for a variety of reasons, he said, but there has been a growing intolerance by the community.

National awareness campaigns had been a significant influence in that change of mindset.

Police were striving to foster greater trust and confidence so victims knew they would be treated professionally and with empathy, said Mr Bullock.

Northland district victim and family violence manager Senior Sergeant Maria Nordstrom said the district had increased its focus on family violence, with two family violence co-ordinators.

Police have also introduced a new role of district victims prevention co-ordinator, who worked with partner agencies to lead and support a co-ordinated agency response to family violence.

"The district has increased its urgency and accountability around family violence incidents with all family violence incidents reviewed daily by the family violence co-ordinators," said Ms Nordstrom.

Where to get help
Anyone with concerns about relationships with family or acquaintances should contact local police, or:
• Phone the Women's Refuge Crisisline: 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
• Speak to someone you trust
• If you have concerns for your safety - or someone else's - call 111 immediately.