Oamaru police have seen a spike in reports of family harm incidents since the country went into lockdown – and they know there could be more that is not being reported.
Lockdown restrictions brought new pressures to family and home environments, Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said.
“On a day-to-day basis we are getting more family harm [reports].”
Anyone with concerns or information about family harm was urged to contact police as soon as they could. Police would continue to prioritise family harm incidents and support victims, Sgt Woodbridge said.
If people were in immediate danger and unable to contact police on 111, they were advised to leave their house and get out of harm’s way.
Police were also working with government agencies to help people find temporary accommodation, if necessary.
Sgt Woodbridge thanked the members of the public who were keeping a close watch on crime in Oamaru and reporting lockdown breaches and suspicious behaviour, including family harm concerns, to police.
“The public have been our eyes and ears and it’s been really, really good,” he said.
While the vast majority of Oamaru residents had been complying with lockdown rules, Oamaru police had made several burglary-related arrests during the lockdown and were doing regular patrols in commercial areas where premises were closed because of Level 4 restrictions, Sgt Woodbridge said.
There had also been issues with people failing to stop for police, especially at night after supermarkets and service stations had closed and people had “no excuse” for being on the roads.
Most of those people were known to police and had a history of drug abuse.
With fewer people on the roads, the number of road crashes in Waitaki had also decreased.
“But it just takes one inaction, one distraction, one person not concentrating enough .. to change that,” he said.