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"Driving home 'It's not OK' message in Central District"

"Driving home 'It's not OK' message in Central District"

Central District Police have taken a creative approach to reinforcing that family violence is not ok in the District by involving the community to spread the message using unique billboards.

The inspiration for the billboard project came after Ohakune iwi supported by local police applied a similar concept in their area.

Billboard Project Coordinator Detective Inspector Chris Bensemann says the aim of the project was to get local people involved to spread the message in their communities and also target those passing through the area.

"We wanted to further ingrain the It's not OK attitude in the roots of the community, and the eight Central District Family Violence Intervention Coordinators involved local people on the billboards to drive that message home," says Mr Bensemann.

"When people are driving through our district they will see the It's not Ok' message consistently.

More than half of the billboards are already up and the others will be erected in the coming weeks. The billboards are situated on main roads throughout the District.

New Plymouth, Stratford, Whanganui, and Palmerston North have two signs each while Feilding, Bulls, Taumarunui, Pahiatua, Patea, Taihape, Woodville, Dannevirke, and Waiouru have one each.

Senior Constable Mike Barnett from the New Plymouth Police took the image for New Plymouth, and Detective Steve Field of the Palmerston North Police took the rest of the images. Local builders and businesses in each of the areas donated timber supplies and materials for the billboard frames.

"The community has been a crucial part of this project and I want to thank those involved for their support and generous spirit. By working together we can foster positive change and break the cycle of violence.

For the 2012/2013 financial year, Police in Central District received on average 542 calls to attend reports of family violence per month; approximately 18 incidents per day.

Nationally, the police respond to a family violence incident every 6 minutes.

On average, 14 women, 6 men, and 10 children are killed by a member of their family every year. About half of all murders in New Zealand are family violence related.

Anyone finding themselves in a family violence situation where they feel threatened for their immediate safety, or a member of the public is aware of a family violence situation unfolding, they should ring police immediately on 111.

"Speaking up is vital and we encourage anyone that has witnessed family violence to contact Police. If you don't speak up you let the vicious and harmful cycle continue," says Mr Bensemann.

There are also a wide range of support services available through the national campaign's helpline — "It is OK to Ask for Help" on 0800 456 450.

An alternative is calling your local Women's Refuge on 0800 733 843.

ENDS

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