Apprehended Personal Violence Orders - A survey of NSW magistrates and registrars

 

Click here for the full report (pdf, 1Mb) and appendices (pdf, 408Kb)

Release date: Tuesday, 1 May 2012 Embargo: 10.30am

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found no evidence of widespread abuse of Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs).

Under Section 18 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act a person(s) who is in need of protection from someone with whom they do not have a domestic relationship can personally apply for an APVO through the Local Court or the police can apply for an APVO on their behalf.

For an APVO to be granted, the court must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the person(s) in need of protection has reasonable grounds to fear and in fact fears that the defendant will engage in violence, stalking or intimidation against them.

If an APVO is granted, the court can prohibit or restrict the defendant from approaching the protected person; prohibit or restrict the defendant's access to the protected person's home or place of work; and prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms or other weapons by the defendant. If a defendant knowingly breaches conditions of an APVO order then he or she can be imprisoned for up to two years.

In order to assess the frequency with which APVOs are sought for frivolous or vexatious reasons, the Bureau conducted an online survey of 210 NSW magistrates and registrars.

Of the 207 respondents who dealt with APVOs in the last 12 months, 121 (58.5%) indicated that they occasionally or sometimes dealt with frivolous or vexatious APVOs.

Nearly 30 per cent indicated that they rarely dealt with frivolous or vexatious APVOs and five respondents reported they never dealt with these types of matters. Only 21 respondents (10.1%) reported that more than half of the APVOs that they deal with are frivolous or vexatious in nature.

Magistrates and registrars reported that frivolous or vexatious APVO applications typically involve trivial/insignificant matters or a single act of harassment.

Neighbours and acquaintances/former friends are most often the parties involved in frivolous or vexatious APVOs, with 64 per cent of respondents reporting that neighbours are frequently, usually or almost always involved in these types of matters, and 42 per cent reporting that acquaintances/former friends are frequently, usually or almost always the disputing parties.

Disputes between public housing authorities/tenants were the next most frequent category of response, with nearly one-third of respondents stating that frivolous or vexatious APVOs frequently, usually or almost always involve disputes between these parties.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn, 9231-9190