Cook Islands Update

The Cook Islands Police response to domestic violence continues to be bedded in as ‘business as usual’.The Cook Islands Policing Plan has domestic violence as Focus Area No.3, which highlights the importance the Commissioner places on this crime. The focus of the plan is to effectively apply a whole-of-policing approach to reducing domestic violence. A plan of action, outlining how this will be achieved, is set out within the Policing Plan.   Sgt Rebecca Ellis, the previous Domestic Violence Coordinator, had played a key role in supporting and monitoring the police response.

A new development in the Police is the introduction of the CMISdatabase, which has the ability to track all offences that come to the attention of the police.  Incidents are recorded on the database by the Police Communication Centre when they first come to the attention of the Police. From that moment, all incidents and offences are recorded and tracked in the database from first call for service to the outcome at Court. This provides Constable Rangi with a tool to track all domestic violence incidents, identify repeat offenders and victims, and build up a picture of domestic violence in the Cook Islands. Victim information is also shared with Punanga Tauturu, the Women’s Counselling Centre, thus ensuring a better response to victim needs.
Constable Rangi and Sgt Ellis will be working together closely, Sgt Ellis is also a member of the Management Board of Punanga Tauturu so is well positioned to identify and address any issues that may arise from a victim’s perspective. This database has the potential to provide an intelligence-led Police response to domestic violence.

This approach is still ‘work in progress’ and training is an essential part of building competency for police and community organisations.  The PRPI training programme is very helpful in this area. Training was held recently for police officers to update their knowledge and skill in sexual abuse cases. Twenty one front line and prosecution staff attended the training that focused on investigating this crime.

The Cook Islands Forensic Police officer was also on hand to support the training. An important part of the training was how to support victims as they negotiated the Police investigation and Court processes. While the topic was sexual abuse, the issues of domestic violence were also covered, as aspects of investigating the crimes are similar. Part of this workshop included training for the doctors and nurses from the main hospital on Rarotonga, staff from Internal Affairs, and Punanga Tauturu. Issues of cooperation and coordination between agencies were discussed and a working party was considered to address solutions to these issues.

PPDVP deployments support this activity as a whole-of-policing and community response to domestic violence. Education and training in the outer islands has been on the back burner this year, but we will renew our focus on this next deployment with planned sessions for the island of Atiu.

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