Increase in domestic violence reporting a good thing, say police and rights groups

The increase of domestic violence incidents reported in Queanbeyan shows new approaches and targeting programs have been a success, according to police.

The number of reports have risen from an average of 12 a month in 2014 to a current average of 16, but authorities say the figures are linked to policing and prosecuting changes brought in to address the alarming pattern of women being abused and killed.

These changes, introduced in mid-2015, focused on protecting the victims and hunting regular offenders.

Monaro police command adopted the domestic violence evidence in chief, which allows a recorded interview with the victim immediately after the assault to be admitted as evidence.

They also brought in a suspect target management plan to be more aggressive in policing those who had a history of offending.

The area’s superintendent, Rod Smith, said these processes had allowed for greater investigating and detecting of domestic violence.

“It has also given a lot more confidence to victims to come forward and report it knowing they are going to get the support they need at the time, and sometimes that results in an increase,” he said.

“What we don't like to see is repeat offenders and repeat victims, and that's something we do monitor very closely.”

The state government’s safer pathway program was introduced to Queanbeyan in March to support victims of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Moo Baulch said the increase of reports “has to be a good thing”.

“The strength of safer pathway is that it means there are much stronger collaborations between police and the non-government support services,” she said.

“Ideally, what we would see as those numbers of police referrals go up and people are referred through to the safety action meeting process there would be better support around for her family to make sure she is safer.”

Ms Baulch said these initiatives, paired with the promotion of the force’s spokesman on domestic violence to police commissioner, Mike Fuller, showed family violence was being addressed.

"When you have that kind of leadership from the top, it might take a while to filter down but with the suspect targeting management plan and that quite aggressive policing of domestic violence offenders it sends a strong message.”

She said she expects the reporting to police to continually increase for about 10 more years.