Govt initiative struggling to support strangulation victims

Source: 1News

Every day, around five New Zealanders are charged with strangling people, but many more incidents are not being reported.

The Government set up a $20 million package two years ago to support strangulation victims. Under the plan, the police and Ministry of Justice were given $2 million a year between them to fund expert medical witnesses to testify in court cases to help secure convictions.

"We know that non-fatal strangulation, people who have experienced that are seven times more likely to be murdered by that person," sexual violence under-secretary Jan Logie explained.

While experts were expected to appear in 870 cases per year, they have appeared in just over 60 cases and police have spent $30,000.

But providing support for victims is where the package is really falling short, with just $54,000 being spent.

Family and Sexual Violence Prevention Minister Marama Davidson said it is taking the Government longer than expected to build required capacity in the health system so victims can get the specialist help they require.

Currently, just five of the country's 20 district health boards have strangulation support services in place.

National finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said virtually no progress has been made "so many of those victims continue to miss out on the support that they need".

Anti-violence campaigners hope things will improve when Covid-19 cases ease.

"It's really unfortunate that we haven't got the results we would like to see and the number of people being helped but at the same time, eventually, when we start to see the numbers pick up it's going to be a huge godsend for a lot of people," White Ribbon's Rob McCann said.