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 QPS has implemented a network of police officers who undertake duties as domestic and family violence coordinators at station, district and, where required, regional level 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 require 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 and it is necessary to seek protection for persons affected by domestic violence, police can make application for a protection order or issue a police protection notice (which includes an application for a protection order). The police protection notice provides immediate protection for persons affected by domestic violence.
Further, if the police officer reasonably suspects 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 to enable police to complete an application for a protection order, issue a police protection notice, or apply to a magistrate for a temporary protection order. If the safety of the aggrieved is of concern, or police reasonably believe the respondent is intoxicated to an extent that they are incapable of understanding the documentation to be served, this detention period may be extended.
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 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.
When the court makes a domestic violence order the respondent must be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved. A respondent is also 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. The respondent must exercise good behaviour.
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 to a court 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 Queensland Courts website, via the link: domestic violence forms
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.
Police have avenues available to them that can provide support and services to those impacted by domestic violence. It can be requested that a police officer make a referral to a support agency on behalf of the impacted party.
National Domestic Violence Order Scheme
A National Domestic Violence Order Scheme has been introduced to increase protection for victims of domestic and family violence across Australian borders. As of 25 November 2017, any domestic violence order issued in any Australian state or territory will be automatically recognised and enforceable nationwide, individuals no longer need to register a domestic violence order in another state or territory for it to be enforceable.
Domestic Violence Orders issued prior to 25 November 2017 can become nationally recognised by applying to any court in Australia.
Videos on domestic violence court process
These videos, produced by Queensland Courts, explain the court process for applying or responding to domestic violence orders. Domestic violence orders are part of a strategy to protect the safety of all members of our community and stop the violence. These videos can also be watched in Auslan, and in Arabic, Mandarin, Persian/Farsi, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.
Use of Interpreters in Domestic and Family Violence Incidents - Best Practice Guidelines