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WA Domestic violence legislation achieves results

WA: Domestic violence legislation achieves results  
05 May 2008
  
This is a media release issued by Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty

A review of legislation governing the new on-the-spot police orders has found they have been widely adopted by police - and those working in domestic violence related fields consider them to be successful.

Mr McGinty said the State Government had introduced 24 and 72-hour, police-issued orders in 2004 as part of tough new laws to tackle domestic violence.

"These on-the-spot orders gave police the ability to provide immediate protection to victims of domestic violence, thereby preventing violence from escalating, often with tragic circumstances," he said.

"This was a major achievement because the previous telephone system was cumbersome, with less than one telephone order being issued by police per month in the final year of operation.

"By comparison, between December 2004 and December 2006, 12,296 police orders were issued under the new system.

"We also know that because of these on-the-spot orders there have been more victims seeking court-ordered violence restraining orders (VROs) which provide a much longer period of protection.

"These new police orders, combined with other legislation introduced in 2004, have given victims the confidence to report domestic violence to the police and enabled police to pursue domestic violence cases more vigorously.

"Prior to 2004, there were only 11,000 reported incidents of domestic violence each year.  This rose to 17,061 reported incidents in 2005 and 22,205 reported incidents in 2006."

Other recommendations in the review include:

               removing the victim consent requirement from 72 hour orders to protect vulnerable victims;
               defining breaches of restraining orders as a 'serious offence';
               allowing police to issue orders to children under the age of 18 who are living in spousal relationships; and
               giving police more evidence powers to get successful convictions of breaches.

The WA Attorney General said
I broadly support the recommendations in this report, but some will require further consideration.

For instance, recommendation four would prohibit a judge from considering consent as a mitigating factor in sentencing for breach of a restraining order.  I would need to be convinced that this is a necessary change.

The Government will make a decision on which recommendations to take forward in the coming months.

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