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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Family Violence and the Police

The issue of police response to family violence situations - in particular breaches of Apprehended Violence Orders - is fraught and difficult. I don't believe that police are, as a whole, mean, misogynistic, stupid or ill-informed. While individual officers may have archaic attitudes towards family violence and some unwelcome beliefs may be widespread, any review of police responses should be informed by an understanding of why such beliefs persist. For example, criminality that features cycles of abuse and reconciliation, withdrawal of statements, direct intimidation of witnesses in their homes, reluctance to see perpetrators jailed, voluntary relaxation of orders like AVOs, the use of allegations as leverage and having police act as arbitrators in broader relationship disputes is not part of the traditional police experience of dealing with violence and assault.

Certainly, the police will need to change their operations and training to meet these challenges. While we need to be clear that we regard this work as important, demonising police without recognising their perspectives will hardly help them do their jobs better.



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