2 Aug 2015

New domestic violence charges mooted

3:28 pm on 2 August 2015

The Government is considering the creation of specific domestic violence criminal charges.

Figures released in June showed police conducted more than 100,000 investigations into family violence in 2014.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Justice Minister Amy Adams Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

However, Justice Minister Amy Adams said many family violence convictions were simply recorded as assaults or homicides, which did not recognise the true nature of these crimes.

She told TVNZ's Q and A programme this type of offending tended to involve a pattern of violence over a very long period of time, something current laws did not handle well.

Ms Adams said a discussion document would go out this week, mooting the creation of specific family violence offences.

She said this would make it easier to track where family violence was occurring, including repeat and high risk offending, and would send a signal that it was being taken seriously.

Ms Adams said any new charges might involve tougher penalties, and that was something the public would get a say on during consultation on the idea.

"That's obviously exactly the sort of discussion we need to have, but in my view family violence, assaults and violence, are of a greater level of seriousness and society would judge them more harshly."

Ms Adams said the Government was also moving to require government agencies to take a more holistic approach to family problems, including domestic violence.