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Child Abuse Top Priority For Police

Child Abuse Top Priority For Police

New Zealand Police National News Release 8:57am 6 September 2006

Child abuse is a top priority for the New Zealand Police says Acting Deputy Commissioner Operations, Peter Marshall.

Police have systems in place to prioritise and manage incidents of suspected child abuse and in all districts these systems are being managed appropriately.

This means that all reported complaints of child abuse are looked at and prioritised in accordance with Police protocols.

"We have capacity to deal with child abuse cases and every district does so in an ongoing, informed way in collaboration with appropriate Government agencies." Mr Marshall says.

"There are specialist Child Abuse Teams in every district with annual ongoing training for specialist sex abuse investigators."

Mr Marshall says there has been an increase in reported cases of child abuse as a consequence of a closer working relationship with CYPFs and other Government agencies and because of an increased intolerance of the community.

"As a result our Child Abuse Teams are facing additional pressure," says Mr Marshall.

"There is no doubt that child abuse investigators are under particular pressure by virtue of the types of complaints they are investigating and the increasing number of complaints."

"I am aware that some districts have an issue with the case load of detectives. Where this is occurring a response is being made at the district level to alleviate the pressure. There is no district with 200 files unallocated.

"There are many reasons why files are not immediately investigated, ranging from a suspect being overseas, a victim not being in any immediate danger, the historical nature a complaint, or perhaps the need for collaboration between government departments in terms of assessing information.

"In all districts there are now systems in place to manage files which involves ongoing prioritisations in terms of immediate active investigation or otherwise.

A National Coordinator for Child Abuse was appointed early this year. That coordinator will be meeting the 20 Child Abuse Team managers at their annual meeting this week where national issues and recommended responses, including a plan for ongoing development of systems and resourcing will be discussed.

"Property crime does not take higher priority than child abuse cases. Police prioritise their work according to threat to safety. Any threat to the safety of a child would take top priority in any police station in the country." Mr Marshall said.

ENDS

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