Gold Coast Police Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce – Collaboration and partnerships within an integrated response.
Detective Inspector Marc Hogan, Queensland Police Service, Gold Coast District Domestic and Family Violence Task Force.
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) Gold Coast Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce commenced on 15 January 2016. The Gold Coast is Australia’s sixth largest city serviced by over 850 police officers performing generals and specialist duties. The taskforce was established within a new social environment, the product or culmination of a number of key events including high profile homicides at the Gold Coast and the release of the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ report.
The new environment provided a platform for tailoring integrated services and responses for greater contribution towards the creation of social and public value within a domestic and family violence context. The QPS taskforce recognised the previous limitations and barriers to responding to domestic and family violence and worked to develop a true understanding of the adaptive change required for improvement and effectiveness. Changes were implemented and adopted to create a fluid working capacity with key stakeholders best positioned for operationalising community based and direct policing responses.
Relationships of trust saw the creation of a triage process for ‘best that can be provided’ services around domestic and family violence victims and perpetrators. Triage partners were selected carefully based on abilities in facilitating timely and effective responses. This joining of resources, experience and expertise raised partnerships effective in providing integrated services in particular for women and children.
Taskforce ‘think’ is centered on innovation and progressiveness with a customer service focus being pivotal to a ‘person management’ framework. ‘Act fast tread carefully’ is another concept built from an understanding there are no neutral interventions in environments of abuse and violence. The ‘house of harm’ developed concept relates to replacing selective policing responses to one of firstly; making informed and full assessments of harm environments usually within family and domestic living arrangements; and secondly responding in multiple coordinated methods.
The taskforce recognises the links between domestic and family violence and child abuse. As the taskforce matures these links are becoming increasingly more evident. A view has been adopted in general principle, the presence of one is likely to be an indicator of the presence of the other.
Whilst existing and previous violence is very important in assessing risk, the taskforce has developed a broad approach of considering what is occurring around ‘power and control’ and how much ‘over investment’ can be identified on the part of perpetrators.
The term ‘over investment’ is being used to understand behaviours which sit beyond what is socially and reasonably acceptable to an average person not influenced by domestic and family violence. Extreme over investment whether financial, violent behaviour, stalking, isolation, threats, using children and so on provides informed insight and therefor assessment around potential explosive offending. Considerations are given to the ‘break and inject’ working process which asks, how do we break the power and control cycle and inject specialist support services?
Work across the many complex areas of domestic and family violence and that linked to such, requires a greater and perhaps specialist understanding. This has given rise to the establishment of a Serious Violence Team within the taskforce charged with policing the most extreme and high risk offenders. The aim is to identify and react to what is being termed ‘triggers’. Triggers can be anything which causes concern, especially on the part of people involved professionally in the space. Our information and intelligence networks must be best placed to support the identification and collection of those valued pieces of information. If we are not informed we cannot respond.
The taskforce is prepared to learn, develop and maintain respectful relationships, collaborate with purpose and be comfortable working under duress in risk environments. We believe we can prevent domestic and family violence homicides and have an impact in improving the safety of our most vulnerable.