Almost 650 people have been charged in a four-day police blitz targeting “dangerous” domestic violence offenders in Australia, police say.
Some 1,153 charges – for domestic violence, drugs and weapons – were laid during the operation in New South Wales last week.
Police also seized an array of illegal items, such as guns, a sword and drugs.
Australia has a huge domestic violence problem and police spend more time responding to the crime than any other.
Of the 648 people charged during “Operation Amarok” last week, 164 were among the state’s most wanted domestic violence offenders, police say.
Some had warrants out for their arrests, while others had breached court-issued protection orders – known as apprehended violence orders (AVO) – the NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said.
“We had grave concerns for victims so we targeted them,” she said. “Some of them have been hard to find… avoiding police… which is why we had this big concerted effort.”
Among those charged was a 22-year-old man police allege choked his partner until she blacked out during an argument.
Another was a 51-year-old man who police have charged with stalking a woman and fitting a tracking device to her car. Police also seized registered firearms from his home, putting his gun licence under review. And from another property police seized two daggers, a double-edged sword and metal knuckledusters, arresting two people on robbery offences.
Deputy Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon on Tuesday said the force’s new strategy of targeting high risk offenders is aimed at stopping violence before it escalates to homicide, adding NSW police had responded to 17 domestic violence murders last year alone.
One in five Australians report experiencing physical or sexual domestic violence from age 15, according to the most recent national statistics, from 2016. It is most common for this type of violence to be perpetrated against women, by men.
The UN has said violence against women in Australia is “disturbingly common”, but experts say it is not an outlier among developed nations.