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Family violence reports at record high

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/06/2017

Police investigated a record number of family violence incidents in 2016, with frontline officers spending 41 per cent of their time handling cases.

Data released by Auckland University-based Family Violence Clearinghouse on Tuesday showed almost 119,000 incidents were investigated last year.

This was 8000 more investigations than in 2015. In 2014, just under 102,000 incidents were investigated.

Researcher Pauline Gulliver said it was hard to explain the increase.

"The general assumption is that more people are coming forward to report, but we actually really don't have any evidence to suggest that that would necessarily be the case, or that wouldn't be the case," she said.

Despite statistics showing one in three New Zealand women experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, Dr Gulliver questioned whether the true extent of violence was being under-reported.

This was because in most cases of physical and sexual assaults against women, the police did not record details of the victim's relationship to the offender, she said.

"We know from other research that the vast majority of assaults against women are carried out by partners, ex-partners, family members and others known to them," she said.

"So we need to ask why the police are not capturing this information."

While police and the justice system received a recent funding boost to combat family violence, Dr Gulliver said specialist family violence and prevention services also desperately needed a boost.

"Currently just 1.5 per cent of government spend goes on violence prevention," she said.

FAMILY VIOLENCE FIGURES:

* 194 people - including 92 at the hands of their intimate partner - died in incidents of family violence between 2009 and 2015

* One in three (35 per cent) New Zealand women have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime

* Seventy three thousand crisis calls were made to Women's Refuge in 2015-16, while 2446 women and children stayed in safe houses

* In 2016, 5461 applications were made for protection orders with 89 per cent made by women and 10 per cent by men

* In 2015-16, there were 16,394 findings of abuse or neglect of children after Child, Youth and Family received 142,249 alerts

* Ten children or teenagers were murdered by a family member in 2015, according to police records, while 63 children under 16 were treated in hospital after being assaulted

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