Illawarra and specialist police will pay unannounced visits to the homes of the region's known domestic violence offenders as part of a new operation sparked by concerns the prolonged COVID lockdown is leaving victims vulnerable.
In the past year police have carried out more than 8000 such checks across the Southern Region (from Wollongong to the Victorian border), to disrupt domestic and family violence and ensure perpetrators are complying with their apprehended domestic violence orders.
South Coast Police District Commander and Region Sponsor for Domestic Violence, Superintendent Greg Moore, said police would amp up these efforts as part of an operation from now until the end of August, with a focus on high-risk domestic-violence offenders.
"We've been fortunate that we haven't seen a significant spike in domestic violence [since Delta lockdown], but we know that in times of increased pressure on communities or, say, natural disasters, we do see an increased risk of violence, for obvious reasons," he said.
"Certainly our partner support services are reporting increased uptake of their services.
"As part of the operation, officers will actively knock on the doors of those known to police to keep perpetrators accountable for their actions and to show support for victims who often find themselves in vulnerable situations."
Police carried out 411 checks in the South Coast Police District last month. With the new operation, Supt Moore expects numbers in the district will increase to levels similar to those of April-May 2020, when 5700 checks were carried out over two months as part of an initial COVID-time operation.
During the visits, perpetrators are sometimes connected with support services like drug and alcohol counselling. Meantime, victims are offered discrete attention and given access to a police specialist support person.
Supt Moore said a South Coast operation in December - typically a high-risk month for domestic violence - had resulted in a nine per cent reduction in domestic violence crimes.
Officers from the eight police districts that make up the Southern Region will take part in the operation, assisted by specialist police from the Southern Region's Domestic Violence High Risk Offender Team , Proactive Crime Team and Region Enforcement Squad .
Anyone experiencing domestic or family violence - or anyone who witnesses or overhears it - should report to police or utilise the other support services that are available, including:
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) - a confidential information, counselling and support service;
- NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) - a state-wide telephone crisis counselling and referral service for women;
- Men's Referral Service (1300 766 491) - provide telephone counselling, information and referrals for men;
- Link2Home (1800 152 152) - can help refer women experiencing domestic violence to crisis accommodation; and
- Lifeline (13 11 14) - a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.