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One of the country's top policemen wants police to be given extra powers to tackle domestic violence.

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Roger Carson is looking at police issuing on-the-spot protection orders when they attend domestic violence incidents.

It is hoped this could help to deal with a problem which, says Mr Carson, has claimed 29 lives and affected 62,000 children in the past year.

But the idea was last night attacked by Women's Refuge, which said it would prefer the police to concentrate more on lifting their game in dealing with breaches of existing protection orders.

The effectiveness of protection orders was highlighted this week after the death of Sheryl Pareanga, a 33-year-old Glenfield mother of six who stabbed to death by a man against whom she had obtained an order.

The man, who was on police bail, was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail for the killing.

Ms Pareanga had told police about his breaching a protection order just three days before she was killed.

Domestic violence victims in New Zealand must apply to the courts for protection from an abusive partner.

However, many victims never go through with that, either because of the costs involved, a lack of trust in the system, or fear of repercussions.

Mr Carson said giving police the power to issue a protection order at a scene was proactive and was already working in several Australian states.

He picked up the idea during an Australasian conference in Sydney this week on policing family violence.

But Heather Henare, manager of the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges, said the idea was not welcome.

There was a concern that it would take some of the decision-making process away from women, she said.

"What police probably need to be concentrating on is working on their system of evidence collected around breaching of protection orders, and charging men appropriately through the court system."

Council for Civil Liberties chairman Michael Bott also opposed the idea, arguing that police were not the correct party to be issuing orders.

"A protection order carries with it - if you breach it - potentially a period of imprisonment," Mr Bott said. "It's important in a case like that that you have an element of judicial oversight.

"It would be completely wrong to reduce a protection order to the status of an infringement notice given out at the discretion of police."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the idea had merit but would need to be investigated in a New Zealand context.

Officers at domestic scenes were often in a better position to judge the need for protection than people in court who were viewing an incident after the accused had calmed down.

Protection orders

2588 protection orders were granted between January last year and last month.

4236 people were charged with breaching a protection order last year.

Six women were killed by their partners between November last year and January this year. Three had obtained protection orders against their partners.