Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed that there has been a rise in domestic violence in Kiwi homes that appears to correlate with the nationwide four-week lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Bush was speaking to media today about the police's latest movements enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown when he addressed the rise in family violence at home.
"We haven't had a significant increase in family violence and family harm through reports but I am aware from those who are working on the ground, particularly in areas like Counties Manukau and others, that there has been an increase," he said.
"It is an absolute priority for us to attend and respond to these incidents so if it is happening in your place, please call us, and if you're responsible for that kind of thing, stop. Be kind and be compassionate."
During a seperate appearance today in front of the Epidemic Response Select Committee, the outgoing police commissioner added that the numbers probably don't reflect the actual amount of domestic violence.
"There is more sitting underneath this," he said of the stats.
His comments today come after domestic violence support groups raised concerns last week about the potential for more abuse in Kiwi homes due to the environments enforced by the lockdown.
Oranga Tamariki and organisations like Women’s Refuge told 1 NEWS last week they expected family harm to rise due to stress, anxiety and as adults and children are confined to home.
“There's no time outs for either the victim or the person using violence so it's a little bit of a recipe for bad things to happen,” Women’s Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury said.
When China went into lockdown, reports of domestic violence to local police stations as much as tripled in Hubei province, according to Wan Fei, the founder of a domestic violence support organisation in Jinghzou.
There’s also been reports of significant increases in people needing support for domestic violence in some parts of the United States and Australia.
Dr Jury said apart from the closure of support meetings, nothing will change with the help the organisation can provide during the isolation period.
"Isolating and social distancing can have unintended consequence," she previously said. "Isolation from wider family, friends, and colleagues is a well-known method abusers use to exercise control over victims.
"Increased isolation also means victims are unable to seek respite from their partners by getting out of the house and doing everyday things."
Support can be accessed by calling 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843.
Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice deputy chief executive Allan Boreham told 1 NEWS last week that they were anticipating an increase in reports of children at risk of harm during the national isolation.
Those fears spurred the Government to put part of its $27 million social support package towards family violence.
During today's Parliament select committee meeting, Director of Civil Defence and Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black told MPs the picture around the welfare needs of New Zealanders was "really complicated".
She said the majority of Kiwis had enough people inside their bubble or were able to access transport to be able to access essential needs such as food supplies.
For those who did not, including the 'at-risk' groups or those without access to transport, they were looking at "local solutions to nationwide issues".
They were working with companies Foodstuffs and Progressives to ensure those groups of people were able to have essential household goods directly supplied to their home.
Ms Stuart-Black said of a survey of 2000 people over 70, only 15 people needed additional support.
She said despite it being only a small pool of people, it was "quite reassuring" the number of people in need was at the lower level.