Safe Whānau Initiatives from Police - video transcript

Bronwyn Marshall:

Kia ora. How are you all? Good? Doing good? Hey, I've been told I'm confined to this space, I'm not allowed to move which I find very hard because usually I walk and talk so I'm going to get weird looks from the guy down the back there who's filming us if I start moving too much, so I'm going to find this sort of a bit difficult to stay right here, I'm just warning you now, okay?

I've got notes but I don't usually look at those. I'll flick onto a bit about the work that I've been leading with an amazing team, some of whom are here today and it's called Safer Whānau.

So, the work that we've been doing is looking at and transforming our response to family harm and violence across the country because we became very aware some years ago that we weren't doing a very good job so -- for our victims and for our people that were actually trying to help. So we had a really good look at ourselves to say what could we do to actually change. So we launched into quite an extensive inquiry with our own staff and partners to say what could we do to change and out of that emerged a number of themes and from those themes we did a bit of scoping. We did 11 scoping exercises across the country in different parts of the country to say what could this look like, how could we shape this up, what could we do differently.

And again, this was with partners as well asking those questions, and out of that emerged what became a transformation programme called Safer Whānau and the key elements of that transformation programme called Safer Whānau were the Integrated Safety Response pilots which was done in conjunction with all of our multiagency partners, we became the operational lead but it is very much a multiagency programme of work.

Underneath that or aligned with that are the Proximity Alarms pilot which is going to be happening this year, I'll tell you a bit more about that soon.

Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke, which is a transformational change within New Zealand Police partnering very closely with iwi around how we do the post initial attendance response, we also had a look and tested this concept of victim video statements, which I will talk a bit more about, and Police practice, which was the massive internal change.

So, we were going to domestic incidents and we treated them like incidents but we all know that family violence and harm is episodic in nature, so if you treat it on an incident basis, then you are not going to understand what has been going on. You're not going to understand the patterns of coercion and control. So it's really important for our staff to understand this episodic nature of harm, so we had to change from going to a domestic incident to something else for Police staff.

So, we came up with family harm investigation, because we want our people to look deeper at the context of what is actually occurring there. Sometimes, we are going to find family violence there, yeah. Sometimes, we just find harm and hurt, actually. We see people in pain and in crisis that just need some help. So we needed our staff to understand that.

So, what we did is we employed what we called an "Eyes Wide Open" approach. Some of you may have seen this before. So when we launched into this campaign, which is really a campaign of change and I guess transforming hearts and minds of our people, it was really important for us to really try and change some of the language that we were using within our organisation and it was really intentional to do that. We had a bit of a research document done by our intelligence team that looked at what were some of the compounding factors that we should be looking for when we are very privileged to go into people's homes and what we saw from there is a transformation in the response.

Now, we haven't got it perfect, I'm not claiming perfection, okay, we still make mistakes but what I did see and what I have seen over the years since that time is our staff looking at things really differently. We've heard really amazing stories of frontline staff walking into what is presented as a violent situation but it's people distressed and arguing over the fact there literally is no food in the fridge, their power's just been turned off. Stories of cops going to supermarkets and getting food. I know that you guys do that stuff too, you know, out of your own pocket. I know that all of you that have been frontline workers have done stuff like this as well.
So when you start hearing the stories coming back, you actually can start seeing that our staff are looking and perceiving things differently when they go into homes to help people.

So, it's all very well us having a look at that sort of stuff, trying to change our culture and approach. It took quite a bit of training, we need to do a lot of embedding, but it is really important that we keep pushing on this and keep pushing for change so that we get different outcomes for the families that we are trying to help. But we don't do this in isolation. So, understanding, too, that when we go there, we're also getting information to pass onto our partners so that we can give our families further help.

So, one of the things that we did do is we looked at the tools that we were using to assess risk within our organisation when we're at family harm investigations and family violence and we were using a tool called ODARA. ODARA was developed in Ontario, it's the Ontario Domestic Assessment for Re-assault and it was great for Ontario. Internationally, it had great reviews, we put it into the New Zealand context. It did not apply in the New Zealand setting, okay. We used it for a number of years, reviews were done and it proved that it actually was not good for New Zealand. So what we did was we embarked on quite a journey and we -- Elaine actually was involved in this -- but we also got a clinical psychologist involved, statisticians involved, and we looked at data in our system, we did regression analysis on multiple different variables -- how many? 42 different variables, I think it was, to have a look if we could come up with a past harmonious model that was derived from information within our system to create a static assessment for family violence recidivism for New Zealand based on New Zealand information.

So, we did that. And we actually came up with a static measure that is holding steady at a 0.74 AUC (Area Under the Curve). So that's actually very good statistically, so we are really happy with that.

Then the question was, "How am I going to apply that in operational practice? Because if I say that to frontline staff, they're not going to be very happy", right? So I had to think about how could we actually operationalise this so we can actually use it in the field to help our frontline staff assess what is going on at the scene or help inform what's the likelihood this person might reoffend when they're on scene. So, we actually built that into our system so that when a frontline staff member attends a family harm investigation, they can query a person which we can do on our Police iPhones, and it will surface that in the context of a family harm investigation.
Then what happens is we also looked at what are some dynamic questions, because you know static's good, it's a latent measure of the likelihood, but what are some dynamic questions we need to ask at the scene, so we again reviewed that, looked at international research, looked at research in New Zealand, and ascertained a set of what is 16 questions for a dynamic assessment at the scene.

So it really transformed Police response. We also developed an app, so our frontline staff can actually use an app on their Police iPhones to do this, so they don't have to calculate anything, they just have to get our people, our victims there to answer some questions, yes/no questions, they can even lock their phone and hand their phone to a victim and allow the victim to answer it themselves without actually verbalising it. It's quite a different -- provides quite a different opportunity for interaction. Then the phone actually does a calculation and it adds together static assessment, the response to the dynamic assessment and gives an overall level of concern for safety at the scene. So it's very much operationalising what has been very well researched and is definitely a tool that we have that is valid for New Zealand.

So from that, we thought, "Okay, it's really good, our staff knowing what our total concern for safety is, but then what do they do?"

So, I had worked with Rachael Smith, who was then with the Family Violence Death Review Committee, and she came up and helped me develop a graduated Family Harm Response Model, which is a set of safety actions that an officer can take at the scene based on this assessment that they do for the victim, the children and the perpetrator.

Does that all make sense to you, or is that just babble? Got it? Yeah? Makes sense? So it's all very evidence-based. Our frontline officers put this into practice, underneath it all is a whole pile of research and evidence to support the assessment tools that we're using, yeah? And so out of that, officers create a frontline safety plan. Simple.

What's really great, having an app to do this with, is that we can actually press little buttons on the app to automatically send a Child Protection Referral to Oranga Tamariki. We can press a button on the phone to immediately call a Critical Incident Service across this line for family violence. We can immediately, if, say, the offender's decamped from the scene, press a button on the phone and create an alert in the system to say, "Hey, this person's decamped and we need to find them".

So it's pretty amazing what you can do with technology to enable really different actions and responses at the scene, and our big focus when we did this transformation for our staff was focus on the people and less on the process and we're giving you some tools to help you do that.
So that's been happening now for over a year, so it was May last year that we actually rolled that out nationally.

The other thing that we've actually done is a bit different and it's quite exciting because we've now got funding for national rollout is we did a proof of concept originally for Victim Video Statements. We did a test in Palmerston North, we did a -- got a decision from a judge said that -- the judge said we needed the evidence regulations change, we worked with MoJ, MoJ got the evidence regs changed, awesome, and what it is, is we take a little ten minute video on our -- again on our Police iPhones of a victim on the scene, "Tell me about what happened tonight", and what's really exciting, as of 3 December last year, that evidence can be used as evidence in chief in Court. Yeah. So we got a proper academic evaluation done to determine whether this was worthwhile to do. I know that you're all thinking this is a no-brainer, eh? Yeah.

So, what we found, 77 times more likely to obtain a guilty plea with a victim video statement than without. That's pretty amazing, eh? The other really cool thing is 58% of the cases where there's a victim video statement plead guilty at or before a case review hearing, which means that it opens up other opportunities for conversation around what's going to happen with that person, maybe non-custodial options, depending on lots of other factors, but it opens up the opportunity for that conversation.

I think in terms of an evidence base to support something, victims have told us that it is way better for them. We've taken in across Tāmaki Makaurau over 2,000 videos now, only one has gone hostile or been a hostile witness in Court, then the video was played, the judge was lovely, the judge said to the victim, "Look, I understand why you're saying what you're saying now, but I believe what you said at the time", yeah? And then put in an appropriate response in place, because they wanted to be back together. But without that victim video, we couldn't have done that, you know? So this is -- I just think this is an amazing tool, it's been rolled across the country, we got money in the budget to do that and we're working really closely with MoJ and with Corrections to make that happen, so that's really exciting.

And again, this piece of research of the evaluation done by Dr Darren Walton and Robert Brooks is being published or it was published in Academic Journal, wasn't it, Bobby? Yeah. Can you remember the name of the journal? The Journal of Interpersonal Violence, yeah. So it's an international journal, so it was actually published in that, so a pretty exciting piece of work.

One of the other pieces of work that we're doing at the moment, we're going to be piloting these things called proximity alarms. Again, in terms of the evidence basis around this is that we've been getting -- we've got our evaluation planned for this. We did feasibility testing, so proximity alarms are a device -- have you all heard of EM bail? Electronic Bail. Yeah. So, electronic bail is a device on the perpetrator, yeah, and it -- often they have to stay in a particular location or they have got like the geo located, right, with the device. But there's nothing there for the victim in that. With this system, the victim has an app on their phone and if the perpetrator comes within a 15 kilometre proximity of that victim, an alarm will sound anywhere the victim is.

It also allows for geo ring fencing, so you can geo ring fence locations, so the victim's house, school, all that sort of stuff. It means that a perpetrator can actually be out going to work, attending courses around their support networks as long as they stay away from the victim.
In the ISR sites we were doing this, Integrated Safety Response sites we were doing this, there's a victim specialist working with the victim, creating a victim safety plan, there's a perpetrator specialist working with the perpetrator creating a plan and supporting positive behaviour with the perpetrator. So we're about to do -- or start to do, we're building up -- to do a pilot on this this year. So it's new, it's a different way of doing things and it's going to be interesting to see how that goes with all the safety elements that we've got in place.

Now, we did significant feasibility testing before we came to this, so we did an RFI, we tested three different providers, we got actors out there in the field, police officers make very good actors, we had -- my team were our victims and offenders, they were stalking each other, they were doing all sorts of stuff out there trying to see what was the best advice to use, what was the most accurate device to use that had the best coverage, the usability elements, all that sort of stuff, and we've arrived at one particular set out of all that testing and studying and evaluating all that. So it will be great to see this working this year.
The other pieces of work that we have been doing are very much centered around integrated practice, so we've got Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke and we've got the Integrated Safety Response pilot.

So, I've been in the Police for 26 years and -- I know I don't look like that -- what I've found in my time in Police is that I meet tonnes and tonnes of people that do really amazing work, you know, from every different agency and from the NGO sector I think there are so many amazing people that do this amazing work, but the problem that we have is that we don't work well together. And it's true. And it's tragic. Because actually, we all really care about our families that we're working with. We all do. We're passionate about it. It can bring me to tears. I've seen so many things operationally that actually, you know, they are horrible things to see. We see people in crisis collectively, you know. And it's really tragic that we don't work well together. It breaks my heart.

What I love about these two different models is that this is us trying to actually bring ourselves together to work together in a different way, and I tell you what, when you get it right, it is brilliant. And we do have pockets of brilliance around this country where there is amazing relationship formed by different operational workers on the ground that are just getting out there, doing the mahi, and they do it well together. But we actually need to make that something that we do as a country. Everywhere. Put aside our individual "this is my little silo world that I'm living in" and actually expand and actually think and trust our partners. I think that's essential. It's really essential.

And in these pilots I've seen this happening and it's exciting to see it happening, it's exciting to see the outcomes that occur when this does happen.

What we've done is that we've evaluated these things, yep. So with Whāngaia Ngā -- so that, that's just a little bit about the integrated practice and how we weave together and how we explained it to our staff.

With Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke, it's in 13 different locations now around the country, yeah. So, we started it in pilot sites, Counties Manukau, Te Hiku and Tairāwhiti. Counties Manukau's more of a metro style model, Te Hiku is a partnership with Iwi with the -- under the Te Hiku Social Accord, and Tairāwhiti is very much a partnership with Iwi and providers as well are involved in Tairāwhiti.

In the other parts of the country -- in other parts of the country, they have formed in different ways, so Whāngaia, if you hear that, is the Police starting a conversation -- that's all it is -- with the community to say, "How do we do this differently together?" and then the community decides how they're going to do it differently together. And, yes, we're involved, we are the conversation starter, but it's very much what the community wants to create. So, in Rotorua it's called Collective Impact. In Whanganui, it's called Flow. In Te Hiku, it's called Whiria te Muka. In other parts, they have adopted the name Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke because that was actually gifted to us by the Commissioner's Maori Advisory Forum. So they've actually claimed that name for themselves, which is lovely, but I went to a presentation in Dunedin and it was from Dunedin and Invercargill communities around how they were going to do Whāngaia Ngā Pa Harakeke together and it was the most beautiful thing that I have seen. It was beautiful. And at the end of it, there was this choir down there, a kapa haka group actually, but that's of all of our different agencies and NGOs that have all come together and they waiata together and they -- it's changing the culture of who they are because they're starting to collectivise in terms of who they are. It's a beautiful thing to see.

And it actually creates different outcomes for our families. So what we found in this evaluation in Counties Manukau is that we've got a 15% reduction in harm, which is pretty great.

I'm going to flick through because I only have probably four minutes left now.

The other great thing that we've done is we've done evaluations of the Integrated Safety Response pilot. Elaine's been heavily involved in this. What we did this year is when New Zealand Victims of Crime Survey came out, I said to Jo Ryan, who's on my team, who's from Oranga Tamariki -- thank you, Oranga Tamariki, for giving me Jo for a while, really appreciate it -- what I got her to do was compare the data that we have in the Family Safety System for ISR and Whāngaia and compare it to New Zealand Victims of Crime data, because I wanted to see, are we a long way out, do we sort of match? Guess what? It's pretty similar. It's amazing how similar.
So we've got three years' worth of data now for Christchurch, about two and a half years for Waikato, there's about a year's worth in there for Counties Manukau and then about three or four months for some of the other smaller Whāngaia sites, but it's amazing to see how aligned we actually are with New Zealand Victims of Crime data. So that's exciting, I was a bit excited. Michael was a bit excited too, which is cool.

And it is really interesting to know that people are more likely to report an intimate partner than they are family members, you know, so that's a little bit of a breakdown from our system about who reports the information to us, it's quite interesting. Just flick on a bit.

The other thing that we're doing within the ISR sites is we're doing these pre and post assessments. So I spoke to Treasury quite some time ago because we wanted to figure out how to measure whether we were making a difference for the families, and I guess psychologists have been doing this for years, different disciplines have been doing this for years, you're doing the pre and post surveys, and what we found from doing the pre and post surveys is that we do, we are having positive outcomes, you know, and so the people are telling us that actually the intervention that they're getting is actually helping them, and I think that's a win, yeah. I'll claim that. On behalf of everybody -- no.

So, it is really exciting to see that people's knowledge of support services has increased, their understanding's increased which is really, really important. I tell you what, when you go to -- and I welcome any of you to come along to an ISR Multiagency Table, Grainne Moss went just 12 July to Christchurch and saw it in action and saw a case where a young, a child had come -- it was a child focused one and the social worker got up off the table and took action straight away, it was that critical, and so did Police. It was one of those very -- once we brought all the risk information together collectively, suddenly a different picture surfaced.
The really interesting thing that I found about that sharing information in the sense of understanding risk for families is that no one of our agencies knows everything. The most frightening one was right at the start for me, still sticks in my head, we had one report and ACC had 85 reports of a person "falling down the stairs", but the mechanism of injury did not match the injuries that the person had sustained.

Or another lady, where an engine block had fallen on her foot six times, and she's not a mechanic. And it is actually frightening when you start seeing the information that we collectively hold that actually really clearly demonstrates that people are at very extreme risk, and we really do need to do this. The ISR sites demonstrate it really clearly. Whāngaia sites, there's only if the relationships are good that you get people around the table. That's the weakness of Whāngaia. The strength of Whāngaia is the partnership with Iwi and the number of police staff that are supporting the partnership, the partnered response post initial attendance. That's the reality.
So, what we've got, we brought a little handout of the emerging findings from the latest evaluation which is not let published but we have published emerging findings. They were available at the back of the room. These are some of the little bits and pieces that we've found and overall we're finding that ISR is a really effective response, particularly for Maori. We got an 18% reduction in re-victimisation for Maori from a specific Kaupapa Māori element of the evaluation that was actually done.

But for everybody, very positive results, lots of things to still do. It's not perfect, it's a continuous improvement model. So, I'm a big believer of let's just get out there and do something differently together and we can just change it as we go. Don’t wait til you've got it perfect to start something. That's my view of the world.
So, I am a real believer of get out there, do something different, try and help families as best as we can together and then we will develop and change and grow it, you know, each community's going to be a little bit different.

So, some great, great evidence which supports this and I mean, of course, for Treasury we did the CBA. Anybody here from Treasury? Which really shows that it's got massive benefits. And this is their -- this is what I like. Unambiguously positive. How about that?

But that's from us working together differently, so it's pretty exciting to see what we can do when we transform and change our response collectively.