8 November, 2012
New order to protect victims from offenders
Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced a new type of restraining order to reduce the likelihood of victims of serious violent or sexual crimes having unwanted contact with their attackers.
Ms Collins says the new order, to be created under the Harassment Act, will close a number of loopholes in existing legislation and will help victims feel safer.
“It’s unacceptable to have a situation where a victim of serious crime may have unwanted contact with their attacker.
“Victims can feel intimidated by an offender moving into their local area, near their home or work place. This was the case in Invercargill recently where a convicted rapist was able to move into a house very near his victim,” Ms Collins says.
The new order can impose a range of conditions on offenders, including restrictions on visiting particular locations or geographical areas, and not to contact victims. Similar to existing restraining orders, the new order can apply indefinitely if the Court considers it necessary.
“Currently, protection and restraining orders are only available in situations of active harassment, or if there is a domestic relationship between the offender and the victim.
“And release and parole conditions only apply for six months after an offender’s sentence has ended. So, unfortunately some victims can find themselves without access to any legal protection. This is not good enough.
“We want to ensure all victims can be protected from unwanted contact with the person who has offended against them. Feeling safe is important for any victim of crime, but especially those who are victims of serious violent and sexual offences.
“This new measure will help victims of crime to feel safe in their homes and communities,” Ms Collins says.
Legislation to amend the Harassment Act and implement the changes will be introduced to the House early next year.