Police Safety Orders help combat family violence

  • Simon Power
  • Judith Collins
Justice Police

More than 5,000 Police Safety Orders (PSOs) were issued in the first year of their existence, Justice Minister Simon Power and Police Minister Judith Collins said today.

The orders, which came into effect on 1 July last year, allow Police to remove an alleged violent person from the home for a period of up to five days.

Police can use the new tool in situations where there is insufficient evidence to arrest but where they believe there is a likelihood of violence occurring.

Figures released for the year to July show:

  • Police issued 5,242 PSOs, an average of 436 a month.
  • 5.9% of PSOs were reportedly breached, lower than the expected rate of 10%.
  • The most common duration for issuing a PSO was two days (23%), followed by five days (22%), and one day (21%).
  • Of those at risk, 86% of people were female, 42% were Maori and 40% European.
  • The most common age group at risk was between 21-30 years (33%).
  • 71% of PSOs were issued in cases where the parties were either married or in an intimate relationship. In 14% of cases the parties had been in a previous relationship and were separated or divorced; in 8% of cases the relationship was between a parent and a child; 6% of cases involved another family member.
  • In 57% of cases there was one or more dependent children (up to 16 years) living with the person at risk.

“Feedback from those on the frontline of domestic violence shows that the new tool is being successful in helping stop domestic violence before it escalates and giving at-risk people breathing space to consider their options,” Mr Power said.

Ms Collins said the low breach level showed the success of the orders alongside other Police efforts to curb family violence.

“These orders make it very clear to the person threatening violence that their behaviour will not be tolerated.”

The Domestic Violence (Enhancing Safety) legislation also allows courts to issue a protection order on the behalf of victims in cases where an offender is sentenced for a domestic violence offence.

Figures for the year to July show this has been done 239 times and is increasing as awareness grows about the new legislation.