Domestic violence scourge on Perth suburbs revealed

Domestic violence scourge on Perth suburbs revealed

WARNING: Disturbing content

TODAY Scarborough police will respond to a string of serious family violence offences and investigate up to a dozen complaints.

It could be your neighbour, friend or family member.

In the past two weeks, Scarborough officers have charged a 19-year-old man for allegedly slashing his pregnant, teenage girlfriend with box cutters and come to the aid of a good Samaritan who was allegedly punched after he helped a woman being bullied by her partner in broad daylight.

The Stirling Times and Western Suburbs Weekly spoke to local police and delved into statistics, which revealed the devastating impact of domestic violence in our communities.

 

SCARBOROUGH police Senior Sergeant Craig Wanstall is still haunted by a domestic violence incident in Gingin almost 25 years ago.

The police officer of nearly 40 years investigated a father who promised to meet his ex-partner with their three children but never showed.

Several days later, they found he had killed himself and murdered his children.

Sgt Wanstall said the last thing officers wanted was to find out someone had been hurt because “we haven’t checked all the boxes”.

He said it was important police maintained their commitment to thoroughly investigating all reports because otherwise there could be devastating consequences.

“If there was an easy answer I’m sure we’d have found it,” he said.

Domestic-related assaults across the Scarborough sub-district have increased more than 32 per cent

Sgt Wanstall said the way police dealt with family violence incidents had changed in the past few decades, but the severity and number of incidents continued to rise.

He said family violence, which comprised conflicts between a parent and child or siblings as well as domestic partners, had always been a major issue and was one of the top three offences his officers responded to.

“Our policies and procedures have changed a lot over the past 30 years,” he said.

“We’ve come a long way. We can assure the community police are not taking it lightly and are taking intervention where we can.”

Snr Sgt Craig Wanstall (Scarborough Police). Photo: Martin Kennealey.

Domestic-related assaults across the Scarborough sub-district (from Watermans Bay and Carine to Wembley Downs and Osborne Park) have increased more than 32 per cent in the financial year to date, compared with the same time the previous year.

There have been 176 assault and threatening behaviour offences reported between July and December last year, 302 in 2018-19 and 368 in 2017-18.

In the Wembley police sub-district, which includes 18 suburbs, there have been 96 domestic violence reports so far this financial year.

There were 204 in 2018-19 and 250 in 2017-18.

In the Wembley police sub-district…there have been 96 domestic violence reports

There have been 36 incidents in Cottesloe, Mosman Park and Peppermint Grove, which are part of the Fremantle sub-district, to date, with 52 in 2018-19 and 46 in 2017-18.

Figures for the Perth metropolitan area were 11,522 in 2018-19, up from 11,472 the previous year, and more than 6000 cases were reported last July to December.

Sgt Wanstall said what took the biggest toll on officers was the low prosecution rate in family violence cases.

He said officers put in a lot of work but were often unable to prosecute because of a lack of evidence, with many victims not prepared to make a statement for a variety of reasons.

“A lot of times we’d like to prosecute and we can’t. That’s our frustration.”

Recent training rolled out to officers across WA Police aimed to educate them about some of the reasons victims stayed in abusive relationships and the difficulties they faced, such as finding alternative housing, lack of financial support and having to give evidence.

“Many of our victims are reluctant (to give statements) for some of these reasons,” he said.

“A lot of times we’d like to prosecute and we can’t. That’s our frustration.”

 

Support services

Crisis Care Helpline: 1800 199 008

Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 007 339

Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 000 599

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800