'Tis the season for family violence

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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Family violence reports in Taranaki have spiked in the lead up to Christmas.

It is a trend which will likely play out across the country as rates of reporting for family violence often increase during the months of December and January.

Detective Sergeant Dave Beattie said there had so far been 80 family violence callouts this month, but the true number would not be known until the end of December.

As New Plymouth police family violence co-ordinator, Mr Beattie said everybody who worked in the area always expected it to be busy at this time of year.

"I know I'm as busy as hell," he said.

Taranaki Women's Refuge manager Janice Jessiman said she was aware there had been an increased number of family violence reports since the weekend.

"We've also seen an increase in the severity of family violence," she said.

Ms Jessiman said many of the incidents had involved alcohol and some involved altercations between other family members, like adult siblings.

"There are families getting together, drinking too much and not backing down from arguments," she said.

She said Christmas often meant a combination of stresses came together at the same time.

"Unfortunately, family violence doesn't take a holiday," Ms Jessiman said.

Acting Sergeant Simon Howard, Stratford, said he had seen a marked increase in reporting since about November.

"I think that's what it does generally each year," he said.

As the South Taranaki family violence co-ordinator, Mr Howard said he had done some preventive work before Christmas which included home visits with those identified as being high-risk offenders.

He said this approach appeared to be working in his area.

"We are getting a lot of calls before the serious stuff kicks off," he said.

Mr Howard said the recent campaigns around family violence were also having some affect.

"More and more people are not accepting what they have in the past," he said.

This was supported by Senior Sergeant Mike Hannah, Hawera, who said the raised awareness of family violence might mean people would be more proactive when they saw things getting out of hand.

"People are reporting family violence more often than they used to," he said.

Mr Hannah said although there had only been one arrest for family violence in South Taranaki over the weekend, it would not surprise him if there was an increase as this had happened in previous years.

A Hawera woman was arrested on a charge of assaulting a child over the weekend.

She is due to appear in the New Plymouth District Court today.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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