Christmas should be a happy and joyful time for people and their families; but all too often it is a stressful period when relationships come under a lot of pressure and the potential for family violence increases, says Inspector Rob Veale, National Violence Reduction Manager.
Police would like to remind people in the community that the first step in reducing violence in New Zealand homes begins with a change of mind.
"Domestic violence survives when there is silence â€“ when people believe that itâ€™s private and personal, that itâ€™s not their business," says Inspector Veale.
"If you have concerns about someone who may be a victim of violence, speak out. Talk to your local police about it - we all have a part to play in preventing family violence."
In 2001, over half of all murders recorded in New Zealand were family or domestic violence-related. While the total number of murders has been coming down since the late 1980s, family violence homicides have not followed this trend.
"Police have introduced a 12-point risk assessment checklist to help police in dealing with domestic abuse. Domestic violence homicides are the most predictable and therefore present the greatest opportunity for prevention. Through reviewing cases in New Zealand and learning from the best examples internationally, we hope to reduce death and serious harm."
Inspector Veale says the 12-point checklist helps assess whether family violence victims are likely to be seriously harmed -or even killed - by their partners.
12-point Family Violence Checklist
• The suspect is obsessed with, dependent upon, or is stalking the victim.
• Recent separation, issue of a court order or divorce and responding in a dangerous manner.
• The victim believes the suspect could injure or kill them.
• The offender has strangled or attempted to strangle the victim.
• There is a history of family violence and it is getting more severe or increasing in frequency.
• The offender has threatened to commit suicide or to kill the victim, children or other family members.
• The suspect has access to weapons, particularly firearms and has used, or threatened to use them. They may have convictions involving weapons.
• The offender has easy access to the victimâ€™s children or other family members.
• Children are in the home when the violence occurred or have been hurt or threatened with family violence.
• Incidents of animal abuse.
• History of alcohol or drug problems/dependency.
• History of violent behaviour against non-family members.
"People in the community together with police and other agencies can help prevent tragedies. By contacting the police about your concerns, it provides a greater opportunity for early intervention and helps police to keep victims safe and hold violent offenders accountable for their actions.
"Police are committed to reducing family violence and we need the community alongside us to make it happen," says Inspector Veale.
Inspector Rob Veale is available for interviews by appointment â€“ please call
Sarah Martin 04 474 9442