New domestic violence bill kept secret from public

The Green Party has just received a copy of yet another bill which the new National Government is pushing through under urgency – the Domestic Violence (Enhancing Safety) Bill.

We don’t think most members of the public or interested organisations have had a chance to see it yet so here it is. We only got it this morning, and it’s due up in the House today or tomorrow.

At this stage we think it is likely that most – if not all – parties in Parliament, including the Greens, will support the bill.

The Green Party has non violence as one of our four founding charter principles, and believe that the Government must make an absolute commitment to reducing violence in society and in our homes.

The key feature of the new Domestic Violence Bill is that it introduces an ‘on the spot’ protection order which police can issue immediately, removing the alleged violent offender from the home for a period of up to 5 days. This gives victims a chance to work out what they can or should do next.

There are also some other changes in relation to the courts making protection orders on behalf of the victim at sentencing, requiring defendants to attend stopping violence programmes, and providing more protection for children when it comes bail conditions.

At this stage I doesn’t look very likely that anyone will have a chance to submit on the bill as part of the normal Select Committee process, but if people have concerns about the bill today I suggest you email MPs urgently with your views.

33 Comments Posted

  1. Im a fan of the inquisitorial/continental/civil law systems rather than common law systems myself; the english just seem to screw everything up! The only thing they ever did that was half way decent was create the constitutional monarchy; and that wasint half way decent until we changed it to fit an MMP system, lol 😛

  2. Sapient; Long as our society bases such things around an adversorial system, someone always seems to get a very raw deal – the written Law and it’s practice usually have a huge difference between intent and actuality.
    That’s why when Out in Front says he has ‘faith’ I wince – too much resting on faith; not enough based around fairness..

  3. The bill certainly needs a select committee process, seemingly alot of bugs to work out.
    I have an enquiry; If the place of residence is owned or rented fully by the person whom the order is placed upon, and the partner is a live-in partner of a duration less that one year, who has to evacuate the premises? The partner has no legal right to the place of residence and thus no right to reside there and force the accused out of the house.
    Trevors point also has standing, I had a restraining order placed on me by my father for two years, during which time i was not allowed in my previous place of residence (not owned by him but by my grandparents) or to re-aquire my property in the house and yet it was fine for him to come through my place of work reguarly and otherwise breach the distance. Suffice to say, when i got back my property all the items of value were missing.

  4. “toad Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Johan, the grounds for arrest are reasonable cause to suspect an offence has occurred. This is not necessary for the issuing of a Police Order.”

    Hang on Toad, the proposed section 124A(2)(a)(i) says the constable must have regard to (all) the considerations then provided, including whether he/she “considers it is likely that has used or is using domestic violence against person B”. This requires a domestic violence incident to have taken place – which in any case entitles the constable to arrest forthwith. I think that as this is a serious imposition on a presumably innocent (until proven otherwise) person’s right to access to his/her own house, a constable will have to meet all the requirements of section 124A(2) before the order may be issued – including an assessment that such offence has occured or is occuring.

    My point is that on the current draft the constable is in a position to arrest as easily as he/she is able to issue the order. If the intention is to prevent the occurance of domestic violence this will not be achieved through the current draft that is being discussed. This, to my mind, is already sufficient reason to refer the matter to a select committee.

  5. Transport Forum has done New Zealand more economic damage in one day than all the Greenies in history.

    Dunno, some of the activism has been prety costly…

  6. This seems reasonable provided it isn’t abused. If it is abused, there is very little here to allow for timely accountability or redress. “Victim” and “offender” are presumed without review or debate. I have faith that the police will do their best to implement this while I’m also mindful of how the usual preconceptions and prejudices may come into play..

    For example, the police spied on environmental activists, but apparently did not spy on the Tranport Forum…..the latter being the group that earlier this year planned and executed the disruption of road transport in all major towns and cities earlier this year. The Transport Forum has done New Zealand more economic damage in one day than all the Greenies in history.

  7. Consider a different scenario:
    Defacto wife decides to leave defacto husband for someone else. She acquires some bruises, then complains defacto husband beats her up. Police issue a protection order so defacto husband has to leave for 5 days. Eventually he returns – to find everything gone (except the bills), no forwarding address. And he has done nothing wrong. He needs some way of challenging the protection order.

    Trevor.

  8. On the spot protection orders have been around for several years. Ask a few families on the receiving end of false allegations and male suicide.

  9. Didn’t National pass the DV Act that states false allegations are accepted by the judiciary as long as the complainant is a woman!
    Protection Orders are issued on the spot and have been for frigging years!
    I should know! Justice is feminist ideology driven by a deceitful gender bias gravy train. Balance the scales before it’s too fucking late !!

  10. I don’t understand the urgency of all these Urgent bills. Are National ever going to employ the Select Committees to do anything? We pay them quite a bit.

  11. Mark,
    Lol, well you misspelt my misspelling 😛 .
    I think the government does have a duty to protect its citizens from each other and, in cases such as this, to create provisions to protect an individual from situations which are their own fault.
    There is no way that partner battery could be altered in any way by christmas, so there is no need for it to be urgent; but if we dont put as much effort into fixing or halting the decline of the economy then i suspect the rates may go up substantially.
    I agree that the court system can be abused and that there are many frivilous or vengeful cases brought before the courts, i think all we can really do is rely on the good sense of the judges and shoot whichever politicians try to interfare with the process.

  12. Sapient: Porpurtraitor! I love it!!!
    I keep coming back to that word ‘alleged’ – and the further reason for an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ pretext.
    The Damages start long before justice is delivered.
    How long does one wait? Disenfranchisement gets close to the issue of ‘Duty Of Care’ of Government – a fairly basic principle of any civilized country.
    Many times both Parties in these cases report an unsatisfactory result.
    The Law may need to meet the people half way – the Legal Jargon has a way of straining our Laws to fine sand, where they should stand like a rock. Clearly outlined and unmoving.
    It has estranged many from natural justice.
    As a social worker I saw many cases of the Police being used as revenge for some personal grievance.
    One guy was taken to Court for four years by his ex-wife.
    Until the Duty Solicitor wouldn’t take part in another “railroad job” – that was certainly the most memorable pre-trial conversation I’ve heard.
    The Economy is in need of urgent and sustained attention – if spying on the Greens is the biggest story then someone has lost the Priority List I reckon.
    regards Mark.

  13. Toad,
    The thing is that when a victim in a domestic dispute reports the crime to the police or in some way causes punishment to be incured by the perpurtraitor the response of the purportraitor when relased from any incarceration they may be given is usually to pursue the victim again and exact control or revenge, usually in a more severe manner than the abuse would have been in if the punishment had not taken place. The more severe the punishment the more it will anger the perp and the more damage they are likley to do.
    An offender is unlikley to be stopped by a peice of paper when they are enraged, after all their inability to control the rage is, in many cases, likley the source of the problem.
    It is sad, but there is really very little that can be done by the police to stop such occurances short of shooting the purp, permenant incarceration, or witness protection (which in NZ isint very plausable). The only way that it can really be battled by government it to encourage an ethic and associated social preasures against the practice or atempting to provide any potential future victim with the tools to recognise a potentially abusive relationship (normally starts with control and verbal aggresion) and the desire to leave (or establish their lack of submisiveness early on in) such a relationship before it is allowed to become violent.
    A temporary restraining order would likley do next to nothing and serve only to further enrage the perp. If the goal is to provide safe time for the victim and children the best solution would probally be to give them the option of a stay in a well funded (would need to fund them first though) sanctuary or womens shealter (though there should be the option for men also).

  14. amuckart said: I may be a Green party member, and share that party’s stand against violence, but I certainly wouldn’t give this bill my support as it stands.

    Okay, let’s get the emails rolling in to House Leader Gerry Brownlee and the Minister in Charge of the Bill Simon Power, asking for the Bill to be referred to Select Committee for submissions. It’s not too late to ask them to reconsider.

    Although I do have to say that this Bill may justify urgency more than any other in the pre-Christmas rush – in order to mitigate against the usual alcohol-fueled Christmas spousal bashing season.

    If it does go through under urgency, I think the Greens should approach it like they did the EFA – while it may not be perfect it’s better than doing nothing.

  15. I’m with Idiot/Savant on this one. This just doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that needs to be shoved through under urgency, and on first reading there are unresolved issues that deserve the attention of the Select Committee process.

    I may be a Green party member, and share that party’s stand against violence, but I certainly wouldn’t give this bill my support as it stands.

  16. Johan, the grounds for arrest are reasonable cause to suspect an offence has occurred. This is not necessary for the issuing of a Police Order.

    Sapient, why does your intuition suggest that?

  17. While I agree with the principle, most relivant research (including that by leigh combes, previously quoted on this blog) and my intuition would suggest that this is only going to result in an increased intensity of violence.

  18. Thanks Toad, just a question: If the constable has considered all the aspects you mentioned and comes to the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the order is necessary, would those same grounds not be sufficient to arrest the person? Presumably yes, if you take section 32 of the Crimes Act into account.

    Is the idea to have instances where there are reasonable grounds for arrest but not to do so but to issue a protection order instead?

  19. Johan, your understanding is correct only if the constable also has reasonable grounds to believe that the order is necessary to ensure the safety of the other person.

    In determining whether such reasonable grounds exist, the constable must take into account:

    Whether he or she considers it likely that the suspected perpetrator has or is using domestic violence against the person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship;

    Whether the suspected perpetration has used domestic violence against any other person with whom he or she has or ahd a domestic relationship;

    Whether there is a serious likelihood that the suspected perpetrator will use or will again use domestic violence against the person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship;

    The welfare of any children residing with the person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship;

    The hardship that may be caused if the order is issued; and

    Any other matter the constable considers relevant.

  20. Do I understand the eviction provision of the bill correctly?

    It provides that: A police officer (with the rank of sargeant and above) attends a complaint about domestic violence. There the constable finds insufficient evidence to arrest the suspected offender. If he/she believes it is necessary for the protection of the victim, the officer then may issue an order requiring the suspected offender to leave the common home for five days.

    If there is sufficient evidence of domestic violence the offender can be arrested – consequently the eviction provision does not apply where there is insufficient evidence for an arrest. What is sufficient evidence that allows an arrest?

    Section 32 of the Crimes Act 1961 allows a constable to arrest a person without a warrant where the constable believes, on reasonable and probable grounds that an offence has been committed, whether or not the offence has in fact been committed, and whether or not the arrested person committed the offence. So, the answer to the above question is that a constable may arrest a person whom he/she believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, committed an offence.

    Following from that, where the constable does not have reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence has been committed (and therefore cannot arrest the suspected offender) the constable is still able to evict that person from his/her home?

    Is my understanding correct?

  21. Valis

    I can assure you that you have not accurately described my feelings toward Mrs Bradford, hate is not nearly a strong enough word.

    As for me, I do not blindly support any initiative from the Nat’s or ACT for that matter, this is one of my biggest gripes about the Greens and one of the reasons I could never be a member, while I agree with the Greens when it comes to animal rights being a member means that I would have to blindly defend their stupid social policy and racist treaty views.

  22. The Police Orders section was lifted from the previous government’s Domestic Violence Reform Bill. People may be interested in what MoJ had to say about its consistency with the BORA.

    While they find it consistent, it is clearly finely balanced. National has extended the duration of the orders, which may significantly affect that balance. In any case, it needs to be dealt with properly by legislators, rather than rammed through under urgency.

  23. How in the world can you construe separating a violent offender from their victim as “feel good”?

    Its funny really. big bro hates Sue so much that he can’t cope when she supports even a Nat initiative.

  24. Agreed, I/S – another good reason for it to go to Select Committee.

    You see, BB, these are the stype of issue that haven’t been considered in the formulation of the policy or in the drafting of the Bill. Seect Committees and the opportunity for submissions are an important part of the democratic process, and even though I support the purpose and intent of this particular Bill, it is disturbing that National is ramming it through without that consideration.

  25. No matter how desirable it may be, this bill has serious human rights explanations. Ejecting someone from their home for five days is a serious penalty, and it deserves the scrutiny of a select committee.

  26. Okay, BB, that is precisely the sort of argument that a Select Committee should consider. Personally, I’d be reluctant to see someone locked up for a week at the discretion of the Policewithout being brought before a Court for a bail hearing to consider the likelihood of further offending.

    But yours is the sort of argument that should be considered, but will not be considered due to the haste with which it seems the Bill will proceed.

  27. Toad

    You know as well as I do that a piece of paper is not going to stop most domestic violence, recidivist abusers do not give a toss.

    If you really want to do something about it then you would give the police the right to lock these people up for a week without trial.

  28. BB, what would do something to deal with the “real problem” then.

    I say good on the Nats for introducing this particular Bill promptly, but still think it is important to have some short period of public submissions and Select Committee scrutiny to try to make sure they get it right.

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