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Friday, October 7, 2011

Domestic violence figures flawed

Domestic violence figures flawed
Ava Benny-Morrison

DOMESTIC violence rates in Casino may look good on paper but in reality "indoor crime" is still rife in the town, according to a domestic violence advocate.

Sally Penhaligon, of the Northern Rivers domestic violence advocacy service in Casino, still sees a large number of women who are victims of violence and intimidation in their own homes.

The comment comes in response to NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) statistics that place Richmond Valley Local Government Area (RVLGA) as having the 37th-highest incidence of domestic violence-related assault in NSW.

This is a significant change considering the area was number 10 on the list for the four years previous.

Ms Penhaligon said the considerable decrease was a surprise to domestic violence service providers in Casino.

"It was discussed at a recent domestic violence liaison committee meeting in Casino and it had us mystified," Ms Penhaligon said.

"We are still seeing a large number of women presenting to the service for apprehended violence orders who are victims of violence and intimidation within their own homes as well as women who are being stalked by their ex-partners.

"However, we have found that the difference between this past year and other years is that the police are not charging the perpetrators in these matters unless the crimes are at the more serious end of the spectrum."

BOCSAR figures show domestic violence-related assault fell by 34.5% in the RVLGA in the 24 months up until December 2010.

Ms Penhaligon said the service would "most definitely be in support" of 24-hour policing in Casino to fight domestic-related crime.

"The officers who work there have a very tough job and deserve better resourcing, as do the more vulnerable members of the Casino community," she said.

If police were stretched in Casino, that meant there were not enough resources to deal with all forms of crime.

"There is a focus on street violence whereas a lot of family violence is going on in Casino that needs policing as well," she said.

The domestic violence advocacy service in Casino has witnessed the same people seeking their help for the same issues, contrary to the crime statistics, she said.

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