15 May 2013

Protection orders 'not useful' without safety plan

10:18 am on 15 May 2013

A campaigner against domestic abuse says a protection order needs to be part of a detailed safety plan to be effective.

The mother of a murdered Christchurch woman has called for tougher protection orders.

A Christchurch jury on Tuesday found Nikki Roper guilty of the 2010 murder of his former girlfriend, Alexsis Tovizi, who had a protection order against him.

Her mother, Cheryl Tovizi, said the order did not stop Roper contacting her daughter via phone, text or social media and urgent changes are needed to how police and courts act on breaches of non-contact orders.

Safer Homes in New Zealand (Shine) spokesperson Jill Proudfoot says on its own a protection order is just a piece of paper.

"Unless the woman has confidence to use it and can trust that the response will be quick and predictable and that the courts will make safe decisions about custody and bail afterwards, then its not useful to her."

Ms Proudfoot told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the agency does risk assessments for victims before putting together a safety plan.

She says one of Shine's programmes provides women with home security, which can buy them time if emergency services are called.

Victim Support says protection orders do help prevent violence in some situations, but are not going to stop those wanting to commit violent crimes.

Chief executive Tony Paine says the laws surrounding protection orders do not need to be changed, but he would like to see action on the causes of violence.

"I think what's more important is that we get serious about going back to the causes of domestic violence, male violence, looking at things like alcohol and drugs and the way predominantly men deal with anger."

Jeremy Logan of Stopping Violence Services Wairarapa says men in high-crisis situations may be pushed over the edge by being served a protection order.

He says it would be good to have advocates who can speak to such men and talk through the issues to come up with a safety plan and that would help make clear how at risk the man is of reoffending.