Family violence jumps 24 per cent in Campaspe Shire

By Ivy Jensen

POLICE were called to 708 cases of domestic abuse across Campaspe Shire in the past financial year.

That is almost 14 reports each week.

And it's getting worse.

It has jumped by a staggering 24 per cent (or 135 reports) from the previous year.

Keeping our police run off their feet with family violence cases.

‘‘A considerable amount of or time is spent working on family violence issues and we are seeing an increase in demand,’’ Echuca's Senior Sergeant Mick Carroll said.

‘‘It is always disappointing to know that there are still large a number of people being adversely affected by family violence.

“However, I do think it has a lot to do with people having more confidence that action will be taken when they report problems to police, which is very positive.”

According to the latest data from the Crime Statistics Agency, seven in 10 of our family violence cases occurred between current or former partners and 86 per cent took place at a residential location.

Alarmingly, children were present in 28 per cent of cases.

“This is always concerning but police take action when children are present at these incidents,” Snr Sgt Carroll said.

Police issued family violence safety notices in 10 per cent of cases, while 61 per cent involved a related criminal offence.

“A lot of those criminal offences involve things like breaching an intervention order,” Snr Sgt Carroll said.

“We find that we are charging an increasing number of people with that offence as a result of failing to comply with the conditions of the intervention orders.

“We also sometimes attend incidents where property has been damaged or someone has been assaulted and criminal charges arise as a result.”

The rise in order breaches shows there seems to be a gap in the way authorities see family violence and the way it is viewed by offenders, according to police.

“Some people seem to be taking a long time to get the message that police will not tolerate family violence and we will take action when it is reported to us,” Snr Sgt Carroll said.

“People also need to be aware of the fact that if a breach of an order is reported to police, we take that very seriously and the offender will be prosecuted.

“Some people seem to have the attitude that ‘oh it was only a very minor breach’. The police attitude is that there is no such thing as a minor breach of an intervention order.”

Police have come a long way when it comes to responding to what was once a behind-closed-doors issue.

“Over the past few years, police have ramped up our response to family violence massively,” Snr Sgt Carroll said.

“We now have a large number of dedicated members right around the state whose sole focus is family violence. Many of these members are detectives.

“At a lot of police stations, including Echuca, we have police member who is solely focused on providing service to victims of family violence. In addition, there is now an entire department in Victoria Police focused on family violence.

“We have undertaken many training packages and IT and software has been developed specifically for family violence.”

This includes the rollout of new mobile technology which allows police to complete reports, assess risk in family violence matters and make referrals immediately.

‘‘This is especially helpful in the field of family violence as referrals to various agencies can be made quickly and if the risk assessment indicates that risk is increased, follow up can be done quickly,” Snr Sgt Carroll said.

As well as police ramping up their response to this scourge, resourcing will also be affected.

“Senior managers will look at this data and they make their decisions on resourcing based on that information,” Snr Sgt Carroll said.

“The level of family violence plays a large part in their resourcing decisions.”