8 May 2018

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence. It’s like the air around us. It permeates everywhere and yet is not noticeable until there is some stench on it that brings awareness of its existence. Case in point, two police officers caught on video shooting at each other from point blank range… the backdrop of which is an alleged ‘love triangle’ which deteriorated into violence.

If the police going so far to try eliminating each other, can we hope that they will protect those of the public who need protection? Hardly. Last time, I wrote about a police officer telling a friend of mine that her brother, against whom she has a protection order, must breach the order three times before the police can act, or words to that effect (wtte). I thought that was an absurd position so I went investigating the Domestic Violence Act 1999 (the Act).

The Act is quite clear. Section 20 clearly states that a person who has an Order against him (I use the masculine to mean both male and female) and knows of the Order and contravenes the Order has committed an offence. No three-strikes rule there.

Section 21 directs a police officer

 “shall respond to every complaint or report alleging domestic violence whether or not the person making the complaint or the report is the victim”.

Quite clear, no funny ‘legal’ language here. And lo and behold, no three-strikes rule here either.

Section 23 makes the duty to act even plainer:

“For the avoidance of doubt, a police officer may act in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Law Act where he has reasonable cause to believe that a person is engaging in or attempting to engage in conduct which amounts to physical violence and failure to act immediately may result in serious physical injury or death.”

Again, no three-strikes rule, only that the officer must have reasonable grounds to believe violence is a possibility. To err on the side of caution if you will…

Section 24 removes the need for applying for a warrant to arrest, expediting matters:

“Where an Order is in force and a police officer believes on reasonable grounds that a person has committed or is committing a breach of the Order he may detain and arrest that person without a warrant.”

Crikey, would you look at that? No three-strikes rule.

Schedule 1 of the Domestic Violence Act lists 49 actions, any of which – when committed by the person who is under an Order of the Court – will result in a breach of the Order. Therefore, an arrestable offence is committed. And nowhere in the First Schedule of the Domestic Violence Act, mentioning the Summary Offences Act, the Malicious Damage Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Children Act, the Sexual Offences Act, or the Criminal Justice Act is a three-strikes rule printed in law.