22 Dec 2009

Police reach out to at-risk families at Christmas

6:59 am on 22 December 2009

Police officers in New Plymouth are visiting the homes of families considered to be at high risk of violence over Christmas.

They sent 250 letters to at-risk families last year, but there was still a spike in reported violence, so this year, says family violence co-ordinator Dave Beattie, they believe they'll get a better result from a personal visit offering advice and links to support agencies.

They say there aren't enough officers to visit 250 families, but the top 20 will be targeted and officers will call on others if they have time.

Senior Sergeant Beattie says, however, that family violence is a community problem and everyone - not just the police - should be -helping to reduce it.

He says family violence is like drink-driving was 20 years ago, and he expects the public to become increasingly intolerant of it.

Letters will focus less on consequences

In Counties-Manukau, more than 100 families at risk of violence will get personally delivered police letters that family violence co-ordinator Tim Smith says will be more supportive this year, rather than focusing on the consequences of violence.

He says the letters will urge families to contact support agencies before stress overwhelms them.

Mr Smith says the police in Counties Manukau make as many as 3500 visits during December and January to families at risk of violence.