Better information for Judges making family violence bail decisions

  • Amy Adams
Justice Courts

A new pilot programme will soon see Judges making bail decisions automatically receive a new report on defendants’ family violence history, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.

From September 1, the trial will see Judges in Porirua and Christchurch receive a Family Violence Summary report which details all recorded family violence incidents involving each defendant. It includes police safety orders or protection orders, as well as any breaches of these.

Ms Adams says it’s vital that judges have the best possible information to hand when making family violence bail decisions.

“Bail decisions are critical in family violence cases because the victim is well known to the perpetrator. In a random crime, there is some degree of anonymity, but in family violence, the perpetrator usually knows exactly where the victim lives, and potentially their daily schedule as well,” Ms Adams says.

Before now information judges received about family violence depended on whether bail was opposed or not. It did not always include information about whether previous offences were family violence related, and may not always have been available to the Judge when the matter was first called.

This new report means Judges automatically get a summary of all previous family violence offending regardless of whether bail is being opposed or not.

“Giving judges a clear picture of a defendant’s previous pattern of family violence offending when they are making bail decisions is another way to help protect victims from further harm.”

Ms Adams says the report was developed in partnership with the judiciary and police and is another milestone in the cross-government work to reduce family violence.

“The Government is committed to improving its response to family violence and this pilot is a practical, intelligent example of agencies working together to make real improvements.”