Policing family violence in Christchurch
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Up until the 1980s, the police often reluctantly intervened in domestic disputes. However, from the mid 1980s onwards, the introduction of pro-arrest family violence policies throughout the U.S., the U.K., and New Zealand, signalled a significant shift in police practices. It was hoped that the adoption of these policies would help improve the police response to family violence, and it was anticipated that police behaviour would consequently change. Unfortunately, the implementation of these policies has been fraught with difficulties, and they have often not translated easily into practice, or resulted in the intended changes. The current study, which was conducted in Christchurch in 2004, sought to understand how a pro-arrest policy was implemented at the local level. Drawing on a symbolic interactionist approach, and utilising Lipksy's (1980) street-level bureaucracy theory, this research focuses on a number of issues, including the application of the pro-arrest policy at the street-level, and its associated problems, and the legitimate/illegitimate exercise of discretion. This study has found evidence of significant practical problems with the implementation of the pro-arrest policy, which are similar to those that have been reported overseas.