Vic: More police DV powers

Vic: More police DV powers

MORE POLICE POWERS TO PROTECT FAMILY VIOLENCE VICTIMS 19/7/07

Police will be able to issue interim, on-the-spot safety notices under a trial program to provide quicker and more decisive protection for the victims of family violence, the Premier, Steve Bracks, announced today.
Mr Bracks said the new system would give victims more security at night and on weekends when most incidents occur. Breaching a safety notice will be a criminal offence punishable by up to two years’ jail or up to a $26,428.80 fine, or both.

“It is crucial that police have adequate tools to respond to family violence quickly and decisively at times when courts are not open,” Mr Bracks said.

“The safety notices will make it easier for police to remove alleged offenders from the family home and prevent them from contacting victims until a court can hear the matter.

“This is a faster, more effective way of sending the clear message to alleged offenders that action will be swift and decisive when police arrive at the front door.”

The Department of Justice will consult with stakeholders on the detail of the trial, which is expected to get underway by mid-2008.

The Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, said that while the police and courts could already act to protect victims after-hours, safety notices would further improve the system by focusing on the victims’ needs and streamlining processes between the Victorian Police and the Courts.

“Following on a review and recommendations from the Victorian Law Reform commission, the Magistrates’ Court, Victoria Police and the Department of Justice have worked closely together to construct a system that best addresses victims’ safety needs after hours,” Mr Hulls said.

“Safety notices will make it easier for police to act quickly, decisively and efficiently to protect victims of family violence, while at the same time retaining the important role of the courts in overseeing a fair system to all parties involved.”

Under the trial, the notices will only be available outside court sitting hours, and set down conditions that alleged offenders must comply with until a matter is heard in court.

Police officers attending incidents can apply for the notices, which can be authorised by a police sergeant or higher-ranked officer. The matter must then come before a court within 72 hours of the notice being issued.

The Court will still maintain its after hours registry with a magistrate on duty if required. Courts will still be able to issue interim intervention orders and warrants to arrest after-hours if the circumstances require it.

The Minister for Police, Bob Cameron, said the safety notices equipped police with unprecedented powers to protect Victorians from family violence.

“The safety notices will make it easier for police to intervene and keep a violent person away from their victim when courts are not open to grant such an order,” Mr Cameron said.

“This has never been done before in Victoria and police command will rigorously train sergeants, higher-ranked officers and police who attend incidents on how to correctly issue safety notices.

“Police will document the precise reasons behind any decision to issue the notice, and explain the instructions to the alleged offender, using an interpreter if necessary.”

The safety notices trial system will be evaluated after 12 months in consultation with stakeholders and the community.

The initiative is part of the Bracks Government’s commitment to tackling family violence, including court-based specialist family violence services and specialist family violence courts.

“No socio-economic, geographical, cultural or religious groups are immune from the scourge of family violence,” Mr Bracks said.

“It affects one in five women and is a leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44.

“The message has to be loud and clear that family violence will not be tolerated in this state.”

Source: Ministerial Media Release

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