An alarming number of NSW police officers have been charged with offences related to domestic violence. According to documents obtained by ABC under the Government Information (Public Access) Act, a total of 17 NSW police officers were involved in domestic violence offences since February 2017. The criminal acts range from stalking and intimidation to assault occasioning bodily harm, choking, and sexual assault. The law enforcing offenders included two sergeants, 14 senior constables, and the rank of one unidentified. In a statement to the ABC, Mark Jones, the NSW Police Assistant Commissioner for Domestic Violence, said the matters were ‘taken seriously’ and any employee involved in such allegations will ‘face the full force of the law, the same as any NSW civilian.’
The troubling number of police officers involved in domestic violence lands a blow to public confidence. Law enforcers are expected to comprehend what a victim of DV goes through in their public duty to fight crime and protect society. However, it seems some officers are desensitised to the claims and images of domestic violence they see and hear on-duty, impacting their decision-making beyond the workplace. In a 2011 Queensland report, negative perception of police behaviour almost doubled since 1999. With concerns of police brutality and abuse of power across the nation, how can we trust our law enforcers when they are committing the crimes?
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is behaviour that is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear within an intimate or family relationship (Ministry of Health, 2016). The significantly under-reported crime can occur in any community and across all cultural groups. It can have serious effects on the physical, emotional, social and economic well-being of the victim and other members of the family including children. In 2017-18, a total of 28,637 domestic violence incidents were reported in NSW (2017-18 NSW Police Force annual report). Moreover, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner on average in Australia (2012-14: National Homicide Monitoring Program report).
Why is domestic violence under-reported?
Domestic violence goes unreported by many of its victims for a number of reasons. These include fear of more violence, shame, fear of being disbelieved, fear of being left homeless, financial insecurity, isolation from family and friends, and loss of a residence visa if on a spouse visa.
Domestic Violence Initiatives
The Commonwealth Government have implemented a number of initiatives under the National Plan to combat domestic violence in Australia:
* The 1800Respect hotline provides professional telephone and online counselling service for victims.
* Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) aims to address the high rates of domestic violence against women and their children.
* DV-Alert, the only nationally accredited and nationally delivered free training program, helps health and allied health workers to better understand and identify domestic family violence.
* Our Watch, an independent, not-for-profit organisation, raises awareness and engages the community in action to prevent violence against women and their children
* The Line, an evidence-based social marketing campaign that encourages healthy, equal and respectful relationships; and
* White Ribbon Australia, a national public education, primary prevention campaign to end male violence against women.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or charged with DV, contact O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors to assist you with your case at (02) 9261 4281.