Victims of domestic abuse now have even greater protection after a new civil power to target alleged offenders and safeguard those at risk was introduced.
Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO’s - which are issued by the courts) allow officers to put in place protection for victims of domestic abuse very quickly after an incident.
They can be used as a tool where other legal sanctions (such as bail conditions) are not available to police.
Following an incident of domestic abuse, officers can issue an alleged offender with a DVPN. These are valid for 48 hours from when they are served and can impose significant restrictions on perpetrators of abuse, including preventing the person from returning to the house or contacting the victim. They must be authorised by a senior officer of Superintendent rank or above.
If a Notice is breached then an alleged offender can be arrested and kept in custody to appear before the next available court.
During the two day period, the police will then attend court to apply for a DVPO. The application will be heard in the Magistrates Court sitting in its civil capacity. If successful, a DVPO prevents the alleged perpetrator molesting the victim and can impose other restrictions for between 14 and 28 days.
This then allows a victim a level of breathing space to consider their options and get the necessary help and support from the relevant agencies.
The Head of West Yorkshire Police’s Criminal Justice Unit, Chief Superintendent Simon Willsher, said: “Domestic violence is a very serious crime, but investigations can prove complex.
“On many occasions we find victims will call police but then be reluctant to press charges for a variety of reasons. Domestic violence rarely stops with one incident and we regularly deal with repeat victims.
“The key to DVPNs is speed of action. These new powers allow officers to further assist victims by imposing restrictions on perpetrators, including removing them from the house very soon after an alleged incident. A number of conditions can be imposed depending on the circumstances of the case.
“These powers can be used against people who have not been charged. Someone might be arrested for an alleged offence but then released without charge or any bail restrictions. The suspect in such circumstances can then pose a further threat to the victim.
“With these new powers, police officers do not necessarily need to rely on third parties to progress a case – they can offer victims protection from abuse or the threat of violence. Officers can step in and take action once a call is received where there is clear evidence that someone is under threat.
“I am delighted to report that these new powers are already being used. The first Order has already been served on a 40 year old man in Leeds who was arrested on suspicion of assault. This should be the first of many in West Yorkshire.”
Greater Manchester Police, West Mercia Police and Wiltshire Police have previously trialled these powers. Feedback has so far been positive. The powers have been introduced under sections 24-33 of the Crime and Security Act, 2010.
Victims of domestic abuse can visit the website: http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/domesticviolence for information about the crime and number of organisations who can provide additional information.