Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders
What are Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) and Orders (DVPOs)?
DVPN and DVPOs, introduced by the Crime and Security Act 2010, are new measures currently being trialled in Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia in a 12 month pilot which began in June 2011.
The DVPN is the ‘go order’ issued by police to suspected domestic violence perpetrators, which may require them to leave their homes if they live with the alleged victim.
The DVPO is a court order which must follow 48 hours after the DVPN and can extend its provisions to a maximum of four weeks. It is applied for by police and is a civil order (meaning that the CPS are not involved).
What’s the problem?
Victim Support welcomes the fact that, in most cases, the new powers will help victims of domestic violence to achieve some vital breathing space to seek the help that they need.
- We are nevertheless concerned that, as DVPOs are sought by police rather than victims, some applications are likely to be made without the victim’s consent. This would mean that victims find themselves revictimised by a process that takes away their control of the situation and pushes them towards taking steps they may not be ready for.
- If victims decide that they do not wish to use the period of the DVPO to leave the relationship or seek a civil order, this will mean not only that the DVPO has failed to achieve its aim but may also place the victim in greater danger when it expires.
What’s the solution?
- We believe that fully consulting and informing victims before the decision to apply for a DVPO is taken must be a priority, and we hope that this will be addressed during the pilot process.
- We believe that applications should only be made without the victim’s consent in the most exceptional circumstances.
- We also believe it is essential that the new powers are not used to shift cases away from the criminal courts inappropriately; we hope that the CPS will monitor domestic violence charging rates in each of the pilot areas to ensure that this is not happening.
- Finally, the new powers highlight the importance of dedicated support services for victims of domestic violence. These are not only urgently needed where a DVPN has been issued, but also for those victims whose cases are outside the scope of the new powers – for example, where the police are unable to make an arrest. This category unfortunately also includes cases where the abuse is psychological or emotional but not physical, despite the fact that these forms of abuse are recognised as being within the definition of domestic violence by police, the CPS, and national and international legislation. We are disappointed that the new powers will not be used to help these victims.