New tool to assist family violence reports

New Zealand Police have launched a new tool, which is expected to become an important part in the management of family violence.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said that the ‘Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment’ (ODARA) would become a part of the police response to addressing family violence cases this year.

“ODARA predicts the likelihood of re-assault in intimate partner relationships and is part of a new family violence situational reporting process, which takes an evidence-based approach to information-gathering and risk assessment,” he said, speaking at the Family Violence Conference held in Wellington.

He said the incidence of family violence was high (occurring every six minutes) and hence the Police were keen to know if they were making the best decisions for each family.

“We want more focus on families suffering the most serious violence and those we believe are at risk of escalating violence.

“Good risk assessment is vital if we are to make sound decisions that will disrupt the family violence cycle and help us better protect victims and children in their care from further harm,” Mr Marshall said.

Global recognition

Selected after intense research and discussions, ODARA is reported to be an internationally recognised, evidence-based risk assessment tool that has been through complex and rigorous testing.

It was developed specifically to predict re-assault in intimate partner relationships including heterosexual violence, same sex violence, dating violence, male on female violence and female on male.

“We believe it is the best fit for New Zealand Police. The information it generates can be used in evidence and will support the prevention of family violence,” Mr Marshall said.

He said frontline staff would find the new reporting process simpler and easier to use and added that the new process is also compatible with mobile technology being introduced to districts.

“We want staff to be able to work faster and smarter in their response to family violence. The changes continue to enhance Police response to family violence. In 2007, there were just seven family violence coordinators; now there is one in every police area. Focus has measurably shifted from reactive responses to prevention,” he said.

The latest changes are expected to be operational midyear after all frontline staff have completed training.

Children at risk

On a related note, the New Zealand Police have developed a risk factor form for children in homes where violence occurs.

“The Child Risk Factor form (CRF) is an exciting development which we believe to be the first of its type in the world. Child abuse and neglect is prevalent in about 70% of the cases of abuse between adult partners. The CRF will help staff identify children potentially most at risk and to pass this information onto those who will work with the family to better protect them,” Mr Marshall said.

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