Alcohol not fuelling family violence, says report

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Alcohol use associated with family violence related crimes in Cardinia shire is lower than the state average, according to a recent report.

Pakenham Senior Sergeant Nathan Prowd said he was surprised that about 9 per cent of family violence perpetrators in Cardinia during 2014/15 were recorded as being alcohol-affected at the time of the offence.

“I would have thought alcohol use would have been higher than that. We find that drugs and alcohol pose a considerable risk factor to abuse,” Sen Sgt Prowd said.

“In saying that, alcohol is not as prevalent as it once was. It may be that there are some drug use issues that aren’t being captured by this data that’s only looking at alcohol use, but it’s difficult to say.

“I think alcohol has been normalised for my generation. Now there is more education and awareness around alcohol issues so younger people might be looking to other coping mechanisms like drugs instead.

“Alcohol is also more expensive which could deter younger people from using it.”

More than half – 58 per cent – of the 226 alcohol-fuelled family violence incidents in Cardinia shire during 2014-15 were recorded as a criminal offence.

Close to 12 per cent of perpetrators across the state were recorded positive for alcohol use compared to the nine per cent in Cardinia, with an offence recorded in 59 per cent of cases.

About 80 per cent of state-wide family violence related offenders were charged.

Sen Sgt Prowd said alcohol was commonly used as a coping mechanism.

“Alcohol lowers people’s self-control,” he said.

“A lot of the time police are dealing with people with poor coping mechanisms.

“If someone’s coping mechanisms aren’t the best, they might use alcohol and that’s when things are likely to spiral out of control.”

More than one in five victims to alcohol-fuelled family violence in Casey-Cardinia were aged in their twenties, while almost half were aged 40 or older.

The vast majority of inebriated perpetrators across the region were older than 30, with about four per cent aged in their teens.

Sen Sgt Prowd said the most common incidents of family violence were property damage, assaults, threats, and breaches of intervention orders.

The latest Crime Statistics Agency data revealed that police were called to almost 2500 family violence incidents across the shire in 2014/15.

There were 121,251 family violence incidents across the state during the two-year period.

When police are called to a family violence incident, alcohol use is recorded through observation only.

Police officers are unable to conduct a formal test to determine whether alcohol is in an offender’s system after a family violence incident, unlike in traffic offences.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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