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Criminal Law News SA

Delay in serving interim intervention orders

The local police have been granted the power to issue interim intervention orders against in cases of domestic violence.

Intervention orders have replaced restraining orders, which were usually issued by the court. This time, the police have been empowered to issue interim intervention orders to prevent people who were accused of assaults and domestic violence from attempting to make contact with their victims.

The issuance of intervention orders has become effective from December 9, 2011. Either the court or any police officer may issue an intervention order. The issuance of the order shall then be heard by a court magistrate who shall either confirm the order, substitute the order or revoke the same.

Once confirmed, the intervention order shall not prescribe unless revoked by the court. The purpose for the issuance of an interim order is to restrict the behaviour and actions of a particular individual. The intervention order shall remain applicable even if the defendant lives in the property, owns the property in its entirety or a part thereof, or renting the property having executed a lease contract.

Since the issuance of the new legislation, the police have issue 1014 orders at the end of June tripling the number of issuances for the last six months. The number of arrests has also dramatically increased from 1143 in 2007 to 1754 in 2011. These numbers were based on reports made by South Australian Police Force.

However, though equipped with the power to issue interim intervention orders, delay in the delivery of some of these orders placed victims of assaults and domestic violence exposed in danger.

The case of Khadija Gbla, 24 and a victim of domestic violence, filed for an interim intervention order in April this year. Up to the present, the order has yet to be served to her former boyfriend and abuser. Police said that the order was already issued but was not yet served.

Delays in the serving of intervention orders were common according to Women’s Legal Service SA director Zita Ngor. Ngor said, “Unfortunately, some officers have taken the view that unless a defendant is present, they won’t issue an interim intervention order.”

Tony Waters, Chief Executive of Victim Support Services, said that most women are disinclined and unwilling to report cases of domestic violence and lack faith in the system. Waters also said that cases of domestic violence are “grossly unreported”.

More so, cases of delay in the service of the intervention orders even depreciate women’s faith in the government notwithstanding the increased power of the police to prevent the occurrence of further domestic abuse.

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