THE number of protection orders issued by police to help safeguard women and children from domestic violence in Queensland has almost tripled in the three months since new legislation was introduced, giving officers stronger powers.
Police who are called out to a domestic violence-related incident can now provide victims and their family with immediate legal protection by issuing a Police Protection Order (PPO), even if a perpetrator is not present.
The PPO would safeguard the victims until a court can determine whether a Domestic Violence Order is required.
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Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said the new legislation came into effect in May.
She said it was not possible for police to issue such an order without a perpetrator present before the changes were introduced in May and, for the first time ever, officers can now extend that protection to children.
“During consultation on the legislation, Police told us they wanted the power to provide this immediate protection, and we acted,” Ms Fentiman said.
“I’m proud this government has backed our Police by making these important changes to ensure more women and children are safe in their own homes.”
Police issued 1185 PPO’s in the first month of the changes being in effect. Ms Fentiman said that is a significant increase when compared to the previous two years.
“The number of notices issued in this one month period represents almost 60 per cent of the total number of notices issued in 2016-17,” Ms Fentiman said.
“In 2016-17, more than 1970 Police Protection Notices were issued across the state, compared to 754 in 2015-16.
“This tells us police are using these notices more often to keep women and children safe and the changes we have made have strengthened the protection police can put in place when called to domestic violence incidents.”
According to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, 61 per cent of women affected by Domestic Violence have children in their care at the time.
Ms Fentiman said the changes enabled officers to tailer the order to meet a victim’s needs by including additional conditions, and for the first time, are able to protect children by naming them in the notice.
“We know the most dangerous time for a woman fleeing domestic and family violence is when she makes the brave decision to leave,” she said.
“Expanding the protection police can provide by issuing Police Protection Notices on the spot is vital.
“We need to continue to bring domestic and family violence out from behind closed doors and provide women and children with the help they need to stay safe.”
Ms Fentiman said hard-working police officers were often the first to respond to domestic violence situations and said she was looking forward to seeing the ongoing impact of these changes across the state.
“Police right across our state, work hard every single day to ensure all Queenslanders are safe.”
“They work closely with other agencies and government departments who are all trying to tackle domestic and family violence in our society.
“Domestic and family violence is completely unacceptable, and by providing police with these expanded powers to issue Police Protection Notices we are sending a clear message to perpetrators that we will not tolerate their behaviour.”