Inside the NSW Police operation Amarok’s war on domestic violence
An Amarok is a giant wolf in Inuit religion that stalks and devours anyone who hunts alone at night.
Amarok is also the police code name for the latest domestic violence crackdown.
“Sometimes a predator, the only thing they understand, the only thing they have clearly in their mind, is a bigger predator,” New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith told told me
There is a new, confrontational “in your face” policing strategy to lock up the worst domestic violence offenders. (A Current Affair)
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“Who is the biggest predator?” I asked.
“It may well be that we need to improve the way we deal with offenders,” Smith replied.
The assistant commissioner is spearheading a new, confrontational “in your face” policing strategy to lock up the worst domestic violence offenders.
New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith. (A Current Affair)
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A Current Affair exclusively joined the High Risk Domestic Violence Offenders team on a series of swoops.
The first target was a 26-year-old with an outstanding Domestic Violence Apprehension Order (ADVOs) in place.
When police stormed a unit block, the alleged perpetrator hid under a couch.
Domestic violence policing that is beyond complex. (A Current Affair)
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His alleged victim tried to protect him.
She sobbed as he was dragged away in handcuffs.
“These offenders will run, they will be violent and they will do anything to avoid being arrested,” Detective Inspector Michelle Ritchie told me.
“This is the whole cycle of violence.
“The victim, you know, is assaulted and the perpetrator comes back (and says) ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that’.
“They’re all happy again until the next time it happens.”
Detective Inspector Michelle Ritchie. (A Current Affair)
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Ritchie heads the domestic violence offenders’ team in south-west Sydney.
“More often than not, the victims are complicit and they know where the perpetrators are – they’re actually hiding the perpetrators,” Ritchie said.
It’s policing that is beyond complex.
“The police must take the power back from the victims,” said Ritchie.
“If we know that that victim is in danger, we will take an apprehended violence order, whether the victim wants it or not.”
A Current Affair exclusively joined the High Risk Domestic Violence Offenders team on a series of swoops. (A Current Affair)
“We continue to see that,” Smith added.
“They feel they have to stay in a violent relationship.
“We have to make sure they understand what’s wrong with that, what do we do about it, how do we empower those victims?
“One of them is to remove the perpetrator from the problem.”
In the recent crackdown, the team targeted another known offender.
Amarok is also the police code name for the latest domestic violence crackdown. (A Current Affair)
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When investigators discovered he was not where he was supposed to be, they checked the home of his victim.
Sure enough, the target is jumped, bolts and is chased through the nearby backyards by the police.
He ended up running down and handcuffed.
Both he and his partner were charged with breaching ADVOs, which they took out against each other.
“A lot of the time the victims that we’re dealing with, they don’t have much of a support network, so they feel like they have to go back to their partner because they don’t have anyone else,” Ritchie said.
Teacher Danielle Finlay-Jones. (A Current Affair)
In recent weeks, the focus on domestic violence has intensified, as several women have allegedly died at the hands of their partners.
Just before Christmas, 31-year-old teacher Danielle Finlay-Jones was found dead.
A man she met on a dating website has been charged with her murder.
Then came the death of Lindy Lucena (64) at Ballina on the NSW North Coast on January 4.
Her alleged killer breached an AVO.
Just two weeks ago, 28-year-old Dayna Isaac was found dead in her home in western Sydney.
Her boyfriend was charged.
Dayna Isaac was found dead in her home in Sydney’s west. (A Current Affair)
“It doesn’t discriminate,” Smith told me.
“It doesn’t have a racial group, it doesn’t have an age group, it doesn’t have a socioeconomic group.
“This is a problem, an insidious crime that we have to deal with as a community.
“Of the 252 intimate partner homicides reviewed by the coronial death review team, there were 267 children who were left behind.
“It’s the result of when we don’t win, when we don’t succeed.”
The statistics in NSW alone last year are staggering.
33,000 assault investigations
21,000 AVO non-compliance offences
30,000 offenders arrested
40,000 charges laid
In recent weeks, the focus on domestic violence has intensified, as several women have allegedly died at the hands of their partners. (A Current Affair)
“The high-risk domestic violence team tackles those highest-risk offenders and we have to say with that, we have to prioritize that because those are the ones we’re most concerned about,” NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said. I.
Webb has been in the top job for a year and domestic violence is a key priority.
An often cited statistic is that one woman is murdered by an intimate partner every 10 days.
“This is a tragedy and we need to do everything we can, collectively, to stop it,” Webb said.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb. (A Current Affair)
With civilian domestic violence support experts now embedded with the police, the commissioner knows this is a problem the police cannot tackle alone.
“This is one that we are challenged with as a police force,” the commissioner added.
“But it’s not just a policing problem, it’s a society and community issue and we have to tackle it together.
“If you have to raise your voice, raise your hand, control, stalk, intimidate – all those forms of domestic violence, I don’t understand it.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website. In an emergency, call 000.
Or, if you need someone to talk to about domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT or visit White Ribbon Australia’s website. In an emergency, call 000.