Despite Orange's domestic violence rate being twice the state average, during the coronavirus pandemic reporting has actually dropped, according to Central West Police District.
"When we look at domestic violence assault there appeared to be a decrease in reporting," Orange police crime manager, Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Grassick said.
Comparing the raw figures of reported domestic violence offences in 2019 to the same period in 2020, there were less.
Between March 2019 and October 2019 there were 190 DV-related assaults in Orange, while between March 2020 and October 2020 there were 153, Detective Inspector Grassick said. Similarly, for other DV-related incidents in 2019 there were 323 in total, while this year there were 256.
However, there was an increase in the amount of reported Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) breaches: in 2019 there were 115, compared to 133 in 2020.
The amount of "DV no-offences", where no criminal offence was committed, also increased. Last year there were 385 cases, this year there were 497.
Detective Inspector Grassick attributed some of the decrease in DV-related assaults in Orange to more proactive policing of this particular offence.
"During the policing of COVID we increased our vigilance of DV. [This included] AVO compliance checks, speaking to victims, speaking to offenders ... [and] being more active," he said.
The release of these raw figures comes after the long-awaited opening of The Orchard, Orange's first domestic abuse crisis centre - something victims had been "crying out for" Detective Inspector Grassick said.
Orange police's raw data is a stark contrast from survey findings from the Australian Institute of Criminology which were released earlier this year. The report revealed that one in 10 women in a relationship had experienced domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis.
Of the 15,000 women surveyed, two-thirds said the attacks started or became worse during the pandemic.
For 33 per cent, it was the first time they had experienced physical or sexual violence in their relationship.
E-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant advised that police data from NSW and Victoria which was released at the same time which showed there had been no major increase in reports of domestic violence during COVID-19 may not reflect the reality.
She warned that abusers could be limiting their victims' access to the phone and internet during the pandemic.
For help contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732.
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