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Police release evaluation of Police Safety Orders

May 21, 2015 at 9:07 AM

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse* See link to website

New Zealand Police have released an evaluation of the effectiveness of Police Safety Orders (PSOs) during the introduction period 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2012.

Introduced under the Domestic Violence Amendment Act 2009, PSOs allow Police to take action to protect victims of family violence when there is insufficient evidence for an arrest. A PSO requires the perpetrator ("Bound Person") to leave the residence and not return or contact the victim ("Person at Risk") for a prescribed period of time, up to a maximum of five days.

The report, An Outcome Evaluation of Police Safety Orders, prepared by Dr Elaine Mossman, Dr Venezia Kingi, Nan Wehipeihana and the New Zealand Police Evaluation and Research Team, was undertaken to understand and assess PSO effectiveness and inform policy and practice relating to their use.

Based on four evaluation objectives, the report concluded that "PSOs have been effective in meeting their short-term objectives, particularly in ensuring the immediate safety of victims and their children, and providing the opportunity for Persons At Risk to consider and seek support." The report identified three main areas for improvement:

  • "Improve the monitoring, recording process, and level of consequences of breaches
  • Maximise the opportunity to support both parties
  • Improve frontline practice to ensure consistency in the issuing of PSOs and recording of family violence investigations."

The report noted that the areas for improvement largely reflected the formative evaluation findings and therefore greater effort would be required to make progress in these areas.

In response to the evaluation findings, the New Zealand Police Family Violence Manager, Inspector Fleur De Bes of the National Prevention Centre, announced four strategies Police will implement. These were:

  • Roll out of train the trainer sessions nationally for all frontline Sergeants and Field Training Officers to improve the way Police use PSOs to reduce family violence
  • Increased support for the Person at Risk (and the Bound Person) through a timely referral to a support agency where possible
  • Increased detection of PSOs breaches by District Command Centres tasking officers to follow up all Persons at Risk while the PSO is in place
  • Development of a quality assurance form for all Protection Order and PSO files to provide increased consistency in reporting.

Inspector De Bes said "New Zealand Police are always striving to improve our victim-focus and ongoing work programme to address family violence. PSOs are a valuable tool to help Police protect family violence victims, and we are focused on delivering staff training and consistency of approach, and improving the quality of investigations and file preparation."