Police and gang leaders come together to reduce family harm during lockdown

By Aroha Treacher

New Zealand Police and gang leaders across the country have come together to mitigate family harm incidents during the level 4 lockdown by offering support within those communities.

Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumata says communications with gang leaders across the country have been positive.

“What we’ve done is linked our Māori leaders with the gang families, and the kōrero that is being used with these people at this point in time - where there is a lot of pressure on households, on women and children - this is about whakapapa, this is about whānau. So we are taking the labels away and we just see people as whānau,” Haumaha says.

“We’re addressing problems in the moment, people getting desperate, issues of domestic violence, people using intoxicants to calm themselves down, but it doesn’t do much good,” Denis O’Reilly, of CAYAD (Community Action on Youth and Drugs) says.

Haumaha says domestic violence is predicted to rise so support measures are being mobilised to assist vulnerable families.

“People aren’t used to being stuck in the house with their partners, and people do go to work to relieve that pressure, so all of those issues are now off the table. So it’s about how do we manage that behaviour and how do we keep people safe?,” he says.

“There are resources for our field workers so they intervene - it’s a bit of kai, petrol, prescriptions, doctors fees, power bill, whatever the things may be,” O’Reilly says, who is also a Black Power life member.

Women's Refuge says they are open and have seen an increase in women using shielded sites seeking help.

"Sort of a greeny coloured button at the bottom of web pages and, if you click on that, that takes you to a mini version of our web page and it also has a facility there that sends a message to us,” Dr Ang Jury says, chief executive officer of Women's Refuge.

Haumaha says, “We’ve set up  numbers and linkages into our key vulnerable communities through Women's Refuge looking at domestic services that will be able to mobilise in a heartbeat.”

The aim is to get as much information as possible out into the community.