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Court information sharing rules changed to support family violence decisions

September 03, 2015 at 1:16 PM

Court information sharing rules changed to support family violence decisions

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced new information sharing rules between the family and criminal courts, to support Judges' decisions in relation to family violence.

Under the new rules, Judges will have access to more information including affidavits, victim impact statements, and summaries of facts from family violence proceedings that were not previously easily available to them.

The new rules recognise that each year, approximately 1200 people who have a Protection Order made against them are also involved in family violence related proceedings in the criminal court. Family Court Judges considering making a Protection Order will now be able to access information such as s sentencing notes from family violence related charges in the criminal court. For the first time, this will also be able to include family violence history in a perpetrator's previous relationships.

Similarly, criminal court Judges will have access to case information from the Family Court to support bail decicions or sentencing conditions. Previously, information could only be shared if a Protection Order was in place when the family violence offence occurred.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said "Rules about whether the family court and criminal court can share information with each other have been relaxed so that judges in these courts will be able to better share more case information about family violence perpetrators."

The new information sharing rules follow the recent announcement of a pilot programmein the Porirua and Christchurch District Courts. This provides Judges and Registrars with a Family Violence Summary Report which details a defendant's recorded family violence incidents, Police Safety Orders and Protection Orders, including any breaches.

For more information including media links see the NZFVC website