31 Dec 2009

Spike in family abuse cases in Tonga

8:10 am on 31 December 2009

Tongan police say alcohol and family relationship stress, combined with an increasing public awareness of domestic violence, have led to a spike in family abuse cases reported this Christmas.

Commander Chris Kelley says police have dealt with 19 cases during the first week of the holiday period and four people have been arrested so far and charged with assault.

He says women should be confident the police will help.

"Our message is clear, you are not alone, we're just a phone call away. Ring the police. There are other organisations that can help; the Women and Children's National Centre here in Tonga, the Women and Children's Crisis Centre, Salvation Army and others. Police will respond and it's our responsibility to protect women and children from violence, and we're dedicated to doing that."

Commander Kelley says the police in Tonga have a 'no drop' policy but despite this some offenders still try in vain to get let off.