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Better support for victims of crime

Better support for victims of crime

4 November 2011, Auckland - Today the Prime Minister reviewed the National Party’s Law and order achievements relating to victims of crime and announced their future plans.

What is immediately obvious is the number and variety of different initiatives, in just this one area of justice, the current Minister of Justice has worked on. In his short time as a Minister, Simon Power has set a cracking pace of review and reform and as his term in office draws to a close, his achievements are astonishing. Shine Executive Director, Jane Drumm says “he will be a huge loss to the National Party, but I am sorry that he will no longer be around to keep pushing through changes beneficial to victims of crime, particularly domestic abuse victims who are often repeatedly victimised”.

The criminal court system is heavily weighted towards the offender and the needs and perspectives of victims of crime are often overlooked. This has gradually improved over the last 20 years, but even so, there is still much that could be done in this area. Jane Drumm says “I have really appreciated his interest and real concern for victims of serious crime, which includes adult and child victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

The $50 offender levy has built up a substantial pool of money and has self-funded an impressive range of services and grants to support victims of serious crime. Having worked previously as a probation officer and in the courts as a victims’ advisor, Ms Drumm says “These people are the most traumatised by criminal offending. It is good that they now have practical help such as specialist support services or grants towards the costs associated with a homicide of a loved one”.

If re-elected National plan to double the penalties for breaching protection orders, which Ms Drumm considers “have often not been taken seriously by the courts – this may send a message to not only offenders but also the judiciary. An overwhelming feature of domestic abuse is that it is a criminal behaviour that is repeatedly perpetrated by the offender against the same victim and any dependent children.

Apart from the enormous human costs to the victims, who are frequently terrified, responding to it incurs an enormous cost to the country. It is a brave step for a very frightened woman to seek a protection order, which is difficult to obtain, incites the rage of the offender and often has to be paid for by the victim herself.

We need our courts to understand how devastating it is for victims when breaches of these orders are not taken seriously. This sends two messages – the courts don’t care and won’t protect her and nothing will stop the offender from terrorising her”.

A protection order needs to be more than a piece of paper.

Shine is a national anti-domestic abuse agency based in Auckland. We provide New Zealand’s largest range of specialist services and programmes all aimed at assisting victims of domestic abuse become safer and preferrably remaining in their own home.


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