11 October 2007
New charge, police log for domestic violence
By Simon Benson
Perpetrators of assaults on their partners will be charged under a new offence of domestic violence and be logged on a secret database allowing police to track serial offenders.
And, for the first time, apprehended violence orders will be extended automatically to cover children.
The Daily Telegraph has learned that a broad ranging domestic violence package was approved by the NSW Cabinet on Tuesday, seeking to create a new range of offences.
The Bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament next week.
One of the major obstacles to apprehending offenders also has been removed, with police to be granted powers to demand the identity of suspected violent partners.
A Domestic Violence Act will be created under which anyone caught assaulting a partner will be charged with an offence separate from that of common assault.
Stalking also would be included under the new laws.
The specific charge of domestic violence will allow multiple offenders to be tracked through the courts and by police, although penalties are expected to stay the same as those available under assault charges.
Cabinet sources said Premier Morris Iemma's promise to "name and shame" offenders also has been retained.
However, it will be kept as a register on a police data base - not in a public file, as some critics had feared.
Police powers will be increased to allow any item deemed by police to be a potential danger in the home to be removed when someone is charged.
Mr Iemma, who has taken up domestic violence as a key law and order reform, promised in February that if elected he would bring in new laws to deal with the rise of assaults.
Attorney General John Hatzistergos is expected to bring the new Bill before Parliament next week.
The Government would not confirm details of the package before it is introduced.
NSW has lagged behind other states in terms of reporting, resources for victims and legislation to deal with domestic violence.
Gaby Marcus, from the University of NSW's Australian Domestic Violence and Family Violence Clearing House, said she was supportive of the new offence created for domestic violence but wanted to see the detail of the bill before commenting.
"If it highlights the seriousness of the crime I am supportive of a separate offence," she said.