Some inroads, but domestic violence still big problem

Hamilton police recorded a spike in domestic violence, responding to 95 calls in one week, but those in charge of combating the crime say overall the problem is trending down.

Police sergeant Alan McGlade, supervisor of the Family Safety Team in central Hamilton, said last week's figure of 95 calls to domestic violence incidents was significantly higher than normal for the city.

He couldn't put a reason behind the hike but said there were normally between 75 and 80 reports of domestic violence each week. "In Hamilton it used to be pretty common to sit around 85 to 100, but over the past 12 months it has slowly been tipping downwards," McGlade said.

He credited this drop partly to the celebrity endorsed It's Not Ok campaign, as well as police focus on prevention work and victim support over the last 18 months.

"The problem is, you put tons of resources into this area but you are trying to change 100 years of domestic violence."

He said it was not uncommon for children to witness domestic assaults.

"Unfortunately, children are present in about 40 to 50 per cent of domestic violence incidents in Hamilton."

A child in a Claudelands home witnessed a serious domestic assault on a woman last week. The woman's estranged partner woke her, inflicted serious injuries, then fled the scene.

The man, 23, was breaching protection orders, Waikato Police communications manager Andrew McAlley said.

The man was tracked by a police dog then taken into police custody and questioned in relation to a range of serious charges, including breach of bail and breach of a protection order.

Organisations such as Barnardos, Parent Line and Family Works all have support programmes to help children exposed to violence. "What we are trying to get across to families is there's a whole host of agencies to help, whether it's drug abuse, alcohol, whatever it is. Police can only target domestic violence once it is reported, so we need people to report things earlier."

A report on domestic violence in New Zealand released this month stated domestic violence problems cost our country $8 billion per year.

The 155-page model was titled The Way Forward - an Integrated System for Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect in New Zealand.

Written by Herbert and Deborah Mackenzie, the report calculated that violence and abuse cost every New Zealander $1833 annually, for a total of $8.3b - more than the annual value of the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries combined.

Denouncing the current approach to domestic violence as being in "overwhelming disarray", The Way Forward proposed a new integrated model with a national "backbone agency" and 32 regional hubs.

Waikato Times