Collaborative response to family harm

Southern police are looking to take a multi-agency approach to preventing family violence in Otago and Southland.

Under Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke, a new programme planned for Invercargill and Dunedin, various government and local agencies would work together to focus on reducing family harm issues, Southland acting area commander Inspector Mike Bowman said.

The programme was piloted in the Counties Manakau and Northland districts in 2016-17. Teams would work with families to find the best approach to prevent further harm in individual cases.

Teams would be formed by members of police, district health boards, Department of Corrections, ACC, iwi, and education and mental health sectors, Insp Bowman said.

''Each family harm incident is put through the team and as a group they discuss each case and decide what is the best approach to deal with this couple.

''It's about looking at the bigger picture, what's the cause of this problem, rather than just dealing with this incident.''

The programme was not just about couples, but the wider family also, he said.

''We know family incidents in the home have a huge detrimental effect on the children in the home, so we want to try and stop that and prevent the children being victims as well.''

Any agency could take the lead on a case, rather than police being solely responsible for each incident, Insp Bowman said.

''It's about sharing that responsibility, so that as a community we're all taking responsibility to try and reduce family harm incidents in Southland.''

An influx of gang activity and an increase in methamphetamine in the South had contributed to family harm issues, he said.

''We've already seen the impact of the presence of gangs and the presence of methamphetamine in our community. That's flowed into the family environment and is causing a number of our issues with family harm incidents.

''If we can, as a community, deal with family harm but also the bigger picture as well, with methamphetamine, with the gangs, we'll hopefully make some real progress.''

The agencies were looking to establish a permanent base in the city by early next year, he said.

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