Logout

Sunday, June 16, 2024
9.5 C
Masterton

ADVERTISE WITH US

My Account

- Advertisement -
Array

Family harm incidents eat into police resources

Wairarapa police have lifted the lid on the number of family harm-related callouts they attend in the region while stressing that there are often better avenues for seeking help for people in less serious domestic situations than calling the cops.

Earlier this year, it was reported that organisations in the social sector were concerned that a briefing to new Police Minister Mark Mitchell included a proposal by New Zealand Police for a ‘managed withdrawal’ from what they considered to be non-crime social problems.

According to the briefing, police have been forced to step in when it comes to family harm, mental health, and child protection calls as a result of a lack of other social services. It also noted that more than half of family harm investigations conducted by police did not involve an offence being recorded, and proposed withdrawing from some of these callouts over time, with the slack being taken up by other organisations.

According to Wairarapa police area prevention manager Gill Flower and family harm team supervisor [FHTS] Corey Reid, the region’s police don’t plan on stopping attending family harm calls, but they do want to highlight the time and resources it takes to attend such incidents when those involved might benefit from going straight to community agencies.

Flower, who held the FHTS role before Reid, said that a decision five or six years ago to reclassify domestic ‘family violence’ incidents as ‘family harm’ means that police now respond to many more such incidents.

In Wairarapa, Flower said, police generally respond to three to eight family harm calls a day, although when she spoke to the Times-Age there had been 15 the previous day.

“Before the reclassification, let’s say we got a call that Mr and Mrs Smith are arguing over decision five or six years ago to reclassify domestic ‘family violence’ incidents as ‘family harm’ means that police now respond to many more such incidents.

In Wairarapa, Flower said, police generally respond to three to eight family harm calls a day, although when she spoke to the Times-Age there had been 15 the previous day.

“Before the reclassification, let’s say we got a call that Mr and Mrs Smith are arguing over who got the last cigarette because money doesn’t come in until overnight,” she said.

“We probably wouldn’t have prioritised that job, and we would just get to it if we could, or we would handle that over the phone.

“Since rebranding, we go to everything, which can even include things like online abuse between a distant couple.”

Despite wanting to reduce the number of such incidents police attend, Flower stressed that they still take these callouts very seriously and go into such situations with a mindset referred to as “eyes wide open”.

“We are looking at what we can do to assist that family, so we don’t need to go back,” Flower said.

“This involves looking at things like what caused the problem – whether it is finances, whether food is in the house, what the living conditions are like, and what the coercive control dynamics are.

“We don’t just go in and say, ‘stop doing it’; we look at the whole picture.”

From there, police officers will do a comprehensive report that details their observations and what everyone said.

After the report is completed, they will present it to a safety assessment meeting, which Flower said involves a select group of agencies meeting with local police at 10am every day to discuss cases.

“The more we can put into that report, the more we can discuss the issues and look at solutions to help the family stay safe moving forward,” Flower said.

“We cannot fix problems; we are just the conduit between the incident and the help.

“It then becomes those agencies that will determine the follow-up that is needed.

“For these people, they could go straight to the agencies without needing to use us.”

Reid said that there is hard work done by lots of agencies in the region to help those struggling.

There are “some great organisations, like Women’s Refuge for women, while ChangeAbility is a great group that assists males in bettering themselves”, Reid said.

“There are also a number of local agencies like Te Hauora Runga O Wairarapa doing fantastic work in our community providing vital support.

“Another good option is often to talk to your GP or medical practitioner because they know where to direct you.”

Both Flower and Reid were adamant that if a situation does become serious or life-threatening, people should call 111 immediately.

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
Trending
Masterton
scattered clouds
9.5 ° C
9.9 °
9.5 °
85 %
2.8kmh
26 %
Sat
10 °
Sun
14 °
Mon
10 °
Tue
11 °
Wed
10 °