Police officers are often called to provide the first official response to domestic violence.
The Queensland Police Service is committed to working in partnership with the people of Queensland to provide professional policing services that will, over time, prevent and reduce the incidents of domestic violence in Queensland.
The Queensland Police Service has a Domestic and Family Violence Unit located in Policing Advancement Branch, Operations Support Command, which aims to engender continuous improvement and strong leadership to develop, implement and coordinate a service-wide cohesive, informed and quality policing response to domestic violence.
Currently, the QPS has twenty-five full-time and six part-time District Domestic and Violence Coordinator (DFVC) positions across the State. These officers deliver education and training to operational police and engage in problem solving with other government and non government agencies to address domestic violence related issues. They are also instrumental in formulating and implementing reactive, proactive and preventative strategies and providing advice and assistance to members of the community.
If a police officer reasonably suspects that domestic violence has been committed, the police officer must investigate, or cause to be investigated the complaint, report or circumstance on which the officer’s reasonable suspicion is based.
What will police do?
When police officers arrive at a domestic violence incident their first priority will be the safety of the people involved.
A police officer has the power to enter a residence when the officer reasonably suspects domestic violence is occurring or has occurred before the officer’s arrival and search the premises. This ensures that any people remaining at the property are safe from any further harm and violence and also to obtain any evidence necessary to ensure appropriate action is taken.
The parties are likely to be separated so they are able to speak to the police privately. The police officer may ask the aggrieved, the respondent, or any witnesses to the incident, a number of questions about the relationship between the parties, the history of domestic violence and for an account of the incident being investigated.
Police may demand the name and address of any person involved in a domestic violence incident, including witnesses.
At the conclusion of the investigation, should a police officer reasonably believe that domestic violence has been committed, there are a number of avenues for police to seek protection for those affected by domestic violence. These include making an application for a protection order, issuing a police protection notice (which includes an application for a protection order) or applying to a magistrate for a temporary protection order.
Further, if the police officers reasonably suspect that domestic violence has been committed by the respondent and there is a danger that the respondent will cause personal injury or property damage they may take the respondent into custody. The respondent may be detained for up to four hours to enable police to complete an application for a protection order or apply to a magistrate for a temporary protection order. If the safety of the aggrieved is of concern, the respondent may be held for four hours to enable police to make necessary arrangements for the aggrieved. Should police reasonably believe the respondent is intoxicated to an extent that they are incapable of understanding the documentation to be served, the respondent may be held for a total of eight hours.
Where a police officer is investigating a report of domestic violence and ascertains that a child usually lives with either the respondent or aggrieved the officer is required to make a report to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
What will happen if police apply for an order?
A magistrate will consider an application for a protection order and
the conditions applied for. On application, a magistrate may make a domestic
violence order which includes a protection order or a temporary protection
order. A protection order is an order made by a magistrate when they make a
final decision. A temporary protection order is an order made by a Magistrate
that only lasts for a short time.
Should the court make a domestic violence order the respondent must be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved. A respondent may be prohibited from possessing any weapons or a weapons licence for the duration of the order.
There may be other conditions imposed, depending on necessity. An order does not mean a family has to be divided or that contact between the involved parties is prohibited.
A respondent on a domestic violence order will not receive a criminal record, and they will not be imprisoned, at the stage when the order is made. However, it is an offence to contravene an order, once the respondent is aware of the order.
If a Domestic Violence Order has been issued in New Zealand, or in another State of Australia, then it must be registered in Queensland by attending a local court house before it is able to be enforced in Queensland.
An aggrieved, or persons who are authorised by the aggrieved, may also apply for a protection order.
These are commonly referred to by police officers as ‘private applications’.
An order issued as a result of a private application will have the same effects as an order issued from a police application.
The order will still be enforced by police officers if the respondent contravenes the order.
A private application can be made at any court house.
An application for protection order form is available from the following website:
What happens if the order is contravened?
It is a criminal offence for a respondent to contravene a domestic violence order.
If a respondent is aware of the domestic violence order and disobeys it, the respondent may be charged with contravention of the domestic violence order. If convicted the respondent can face a range of punishment options, including fines or terms of imprisonment.