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Cyber bullying story calls for more female Police recruits

Extraordinary cyber bullying story calls for more female Police recruits

New Zealand Police are hoping to inspire more young women to apply for a police career through sharing the extraordinary story of Constable Penni Eggleton.

Constable Eggleton’s extraordinary story is at the centre of the latest installation of a NZ Police recruitment drive. Constable Eggleton helped a woman in her early 20s who was receiving hundreds of threatening text messages from an ex-boyfriend – a man with a history of violent behaviour towards women.

The new street art has been installed at Massey University in Wellington and includes hundreds of real TXT messages sent by the victim’s ex-boyfriend. The launch of this iteration of the NZ Police campaign coincides with White Ribbon month which asks men to pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence towards women.

Constable Eggleton, who now works in the Wellington Family Violence Team, says, "Over the course of just two days, the victim received over 100 TXTs. These ranged from being affectionate in nature, through to vicious threats. I worked through the messages and realised the immense danger the young woman was in. I created a safety plan to ensure the situation did not escalate into physical violence and got the offender locked up.

"In our team, we deal with a significant number of cases involving TXT and cyber bullying. When relationships break down it can cause a rollercoaster of psychological violence. Many young women find themselves receiving violent TXTs and they need to understand that this is a crime and can be a precursor to physical harm," she says.

Inspector Brigitte Nimmo, National Manager of Family Violence for New Zealand Police says, “There are 3,500 convictions recorded each year against men for assaults on women, although it is estimated that only 20 percent of abuse cases are reported. Our aim with this campaign is to increase awareness of what can be done to help victims of abuse, and to highlight the importance of recruiting new cops with digital literacy, who also have great communications skills and empathy for the victims they work to help.”

Constable Eggleton’s street art, depicting her extraordinary story, has the full support of Women’s Refuge, the Families Commission, and the Ministry of Social Development.

Heather Henare, Chief Executive of Women's Refuge, says of the approach, "I'm supportive of New Zealand Police's efforts to recruit those who want to help society's most vulnerable. More than one in three women experience partner violence at some point in their lives and I'm sure there are many young women out there who would feel very empowered to become a cop and make difference for those victims."

Over the past decade, from 2002 – 2012, the number of female police officers has increased by 53 percent. However there is still a lot of work to do and Police are keen to see more women join Police. As of June 2012, only 17.7 percent of the current 8,855 full time equivalent Constabulary employees were female.

New Zealand Police are looking to recruit 160 frontline staff from July 2012 to June 2013. To take the first step in becoming a cop, go to www.newcops.co.nz/extraordinary

ENDS

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