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NZ Police can issue five-day safety orders

Police given new authority in domestic abuse cases

Police can issue five-day safety orders from Thursday (NZPA)
Tue, 29 Jun 2010 6:12p.m.
By Michael Morrah

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From Thursday police will have the power to ban people from their own homes for five days.

Police will use the new safety orders to try to protect the victims of domestic abuse from their violent partners.

Tracey (not her real name) is a victim of prolonged domestic abuse. She says her first year of marriage was 12 months of hell.
Tracey said
He'd punch me, strangle me, slap me, throw me against the wall.

He'd try and run me over.
Police would often visit Tracey's family home. Sometimes her husband was arrested, frequently he wasn't.

From Thursday (1 July 2010), even if police don't have enough evidence to make an arrest, an officer can bar a person from their home based on just a suspicion of violent behaviour.
Tracey said
If it was there when that was happening to me it would have helped.

Cause he would've been gone and I would have had up to five days to think about what to do next.
The safety order will work much like a protection order, but it removes the need to wait for a court to issue one.

Anti-violence campaigners welcome the new law.
Shine client services director Jill Proudfoot said
It takes the heat out of the relationship because if you're not talking to each other all the time, you're not aggravating the situation further.
But there are concerns about where men will go if they get kicked out of home.
Jim Bagnall of the Coalition of Fathers said
It would protect a vulnerable person, however If it's a mother she can go to a refuge, they have Victim Support, the police, and so do the children. Whereas if it's the father, there is no refuge to go to.
Mr Bagnell says men will end up being unfairly targeted. But police say even though men account for about 90 percent of violence in the home, that's not their intention.

Police say the decision to issue a five-day safety order would be based on each officers' assessment of the risk of violence. And although men are represented when it comes to domestic abuse, officers would have a duty to ensure each matter is dealt with fairly and without prejudice.

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The Omaru Mail

Oamaru police are not expecting to use their new powers to deal with domestic violence often, but are welcoming them all the same.

Under new legislation announced yesterday, from July 1 officers attending domestic incidents will be able to issue police safety orders (PSOs), which can require suspects to surrender any weapons and vacate the property for up to five days.

They do not need the consent of the person or persons at risk to serve the order.
Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy of the Oamaru police said
I dont envisage there will be a high number (of orders served)only in situations where we have concerns

Sometimes we go to incidents where we cant identify an offence that we can deal with at the time.

Here, if weve got concerns that when we left its going to escalate again, we can serve a PSO
There were a number of domestic violence incidents in the district, he said.

A PSO was an interim order to "fill a gap" where police previously had no power, he said.

"I think for incidents where its obvious things are going to continue, but theres nothing we can do, it will be ideal."

Senior Sergeant McCoy said police were well-equipped to use their discretion on serving PSOs.

"It comes around through the training weve done, but also having dealt with previous incidents.

"Every incident will be judged on its merits at the time."

The PSO would give people space to calm down, he said.

"I see it as an opportunity for the parties to cool off and decide whether to go further (with a protection order)."

A crime does not have to have been committed for a PSO to be served and officers from the rank of constable upwards can issue it on the spot, rather than waiting for a court-issued order.

Anyone who breaches the order can be arrested.

Officers must explain to the person on whom the order is being served the reason, its effect, and its duration. An explanation also has to be made to the person at risk.

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