Another step forward in protecting victims of family violence – Police Safety Orders

From 1 July the New Zealand Police will have additional powers to intervene in family violence call-outs. They will be able to utilise what is known as a ‘Police Safety Order’. Legislation was passed in October 2009 which amends several acts including the Domestic Violence Act 1995. This new legislation gives Police the ability to issue police safety orders (PSO) from 1 July 2010.Police will now be able to assess the level of risk and issue a PSO in cases of domestic violence, where there is insufficient evidence to arrest. The PSO can be issued without the consent of the at risk person.

 

Issue of a PSO can require the respondent to immediately leave any residence or building occupied by the at risk person for up to five days, regardless of ownership or tenancy of the property. This includes offenders on an electronically monitored sentence who are living at the address. This new legislation will provide a period of safety in which victims can consider their future options, including the possibility of applying for a Protection Order through the courts.

Any respondent of a PSO must surrender their firearms license and any weapons in their possession. The order comes into force as soon as it is served, however if a PSO is not served within 48 hours from the time of issue it lapses and becomes invalid. In the event of a breach of PSO respondents can be arrested without a warrant but must be brought before the Court within 24 hours, where the Judge can choose to extend or renew the PSO or issue a temporary protection order.

Protection Orders
New amendments to the Sentencing Act now allow Criminal Court Judges to make final protection orders against persons convicted of a domestic violence offence. This protection order is treated as if it was an order from the Family Court and can be issued in cases where there is no current protection order and the victim of the offence does not object to its issue

The Protection order is in addition to any other sentence that is imposed for the domestic violence offence and mandates the offender to attend an approved domestic violence programme.

Family Courts also have the provision to pay for protected persons to attend an approved domestic violence education programme or arrange free counselling for couples who are having problems with their relationship or who are separating and need help reaching agreement on issues.

Published on Thursday, July 1st, 2010, under Announcements, Family violence

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