Using The “Family Violence Flag” To Better Identify Harm Within Families
This thesis looks at how the identification and recording of family violence offending in the criminal justice system could be improved. In doing so it examines s 16A of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011, which was introduced in 2019 to ensure “family violence offences” are identified as such on charging documents and on the offender’s criminal record. This provision is known operationally as the “family violence flag”. The role of the family violence flag in relation to risk assessment is considered, particularly its ability to reveal a perpetrator’s prior family violence offending. Research has shown that a history of family violence is the most consistently identified risk factor for intimate partner lethality and risk of re-assault. The potential of the family violence flag to improve the evidence-base of family violence offending in New Zealand is also considered, which is important given the prevalence and detrimental impact of family violence in New Zealand. Analysis suggests that despite its recent introduction, changes could be made to s 16A to increase its utility. Accordingly, reform options to s 16A are proposed to better achieve the policy intent of the family violence flag, strengthening both its application and subsequent use.