Time to make protection orders stick, mother says

By Amy Shanks

6 comments

A Napier mother asks how many times she has to see her daughter "shaking like a leaf" after another protection order breach - before the worst happens.

The woman, who Hawke's Bay Today will not name in order to protect her family, says police recorded 11 family violence incidents, three breaches of protection order, one common assault and unlawful possession of a firearm against her daughter's ex-partner, between August 2012 and last month.

In January, the man appeared in court and was given 75 hours community work for the three breaches and other unrelated offending.

Police had been called 12 times in just a few months - the situation had become so stressful her daughter was not sleeping, didn't feel safe and resorted to having a friend sleep over in the house she shared with her two children.

"She has massive panic attacks, she won't go to the supermarket - she can't be alone," the woman said.

It was reason enough to launch a petition asking for the implementation of a "three strikes" policy for protection order breaches.

"Family violence comes under three strikes - protection orders don't - the justice system has to do something," the woman said.

"This is not just a Napier issue - there are men and women all over the country."

If they get their way the first breach would result in a strike warning and confiscation of the offenders cell phone and computer; the second in three years would bring a warning, $5000 fine paid to the victim or a compulsory six month jail term; and the third strike in three years would be a minimum of three years jail time.

"I would also like to see [police] act a lot faster every time they get a 111 call about breach of protection orders - not a phone call two hours later asking us to come into the station to report the incident.

"[My family] are not going to be the next statistics, I just won't allow it to happen."

Sensible Sentencing Trust got behind the petition to help make a change for the family and others like them.

"We support anything like this because at the end of the day we know the people who are breaching don't take the law seriously - if they continue to breach they will be a concern not only to those involved but the wider community," spokeswoman Ruth Money said.

"You only have to look at the terrible stories where there has been a breach that has not been dealt with as seriously as it should have been and has ended in serious assault or homicide."

After just a couple of weeks online the petition already had about 250 signatures, but they had a long way to go.

"We are getting the petition printed, we need help from people willing to sit outside shops with it or even places who will let us leave it there."

They had also been in close contact with MP Chris Tremain who offered to furnish the petition to Parliament.

Mr Tremain could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The petition is available online at: petition24.com/breach-of-protection-orders.

Anyone who would like to distribute the petition or give their time to rally support for it can email: protectionorder@outlook.co.nz

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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