In the lead-up to his keynote presentation at the National Domestic Violence Summit in Sydney, Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch APM provided an encouraging update on the NSW Police Force’s response to domestic violence.
2006 saw the release of the Ombudsman’s Special Report to Parliament: Domestic Violence – improving police practice. AC Murdoch highlights that the “report focussed on 3 critical areas: enhanced victim support, better cooperation between NSWPF and other agencies, and more effective frontline policing responses”.
“The 43 recommendations related to issues of investigation, evidence gathering, prosecution, victim support and referrals, policing strategies, risk assessment and training. As a result of implementing these recommendations NSWPF have, in my view, considerably enhanced our relationships with the DV sector and other stakeholders,” he said.
“More importantly, we have improved the policing response to victims and their families and moved to more proactive policing practices – that is, we have actively trained police to better understand the dynamics of DV and encouraged the importance of police conducting thorough investigations – interviewing witnesses, taking effective statements, charging where the evidence exists to support a charge, applying for AVOs, etc.”
Domestic violence is a complex crime and technology has provided police with additional resources.
“NSWPF were the first jurisdiction in Australia to implement an online AVO application system and at this stage remain the only jurisdiction with an electronic AVO application system.
NSWPF leads the way using technology in terms of policing agencies in Australia as more and more of our paper based processes have moved, or are moving online”.
Statistics highlight increased confidence in police
• In 2009 NSWPF responded to 107,062 DV events in the 2009/2010 financial year
• In the 2012/2013 financial year it responded to 118,222 DV events
“This significant increase in reporting reflects the community’s confidence that police do take DV seriously and will proactively investigate each incident and proceed to prosecution if there is sufficient admissible evidence,” AC Murdoch continues.
Promoting collaboration and coordination
A number of initiatives implemented and the overall improvement in the response by police to DV has been a result of greater collaboration and coordination with all agencies involved including responses of government agencies and the NGO sector
AC Murdoch provides the example of the development of the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy (DVJS).
“The development of the DVJS was led by our colleagues in the Domestic & Family Violence Team, Attorney General’s Division, Dept of Justice in partnership with key justice and human service agencies. It is an operational framework that outlines the approaches and standards justice agencies in NSW will adopt to improve the criminal justice system’s response to DV. There are 6 Justice Outcomes and a number of Strategies which agencies will work towards over the next 3 years.”
To hear more about the NSWPF’s proactive initiatives and recent developments in responding to domestic violence, view the agenda for the National Domestic Violence Summit here.