6 May 2015

Protection order breaches taken seriously

5:18 pm on 6 May 2015

Police in Northland are rejecting accusations they've mishandled protection order breaches, saying a victim's first call to the police is always responded to appropriately.

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Police say there are clear expectations around the response to domestic violence. Photo: 123rf

Police and the Independent Police Conduct Authority are investigating a complaint laid by 19-year-old Ulanda Cochrane, who said a senior Northland officer failed to act on three protection order breaches she reported.

The Maori Women's Refuge in Whangarei has also criticised the way the police mishandle breaches too often, with some officers not knowing how to even enforce a breach.

However the region's victim and family violence manager Senior Sergeant Maria Nordstrom said policing around such issues had improved in leaps and bounds in the last two years.

"So our staff are trained right from day one at police college right through and they get upskilling constantly. So we're looking at every case that's coming through across our desks and thoroughly investigating that and taking appropriate action," Ms Nordstrom said.

Ulanda Cochrane originally took out a protection order against her former boyfriend so he could not text her.

The Maori Women's Refuge said it was becoming more common for officers to ask women to prove that an abusive social media message was actually from who they said it was.

But Maria Nordstrom said if a victim considered indirect contact such as texts a breach, it would be treated that way by the police.

"Every breach that is brought to our attention by an applicant, we have to investigate and those sort of things, those stones we've got to turn. Yes and on some occasions it is difficult but we do the best we can to establish the facts."

She said a common breach of a protection order was contact by text and social media, and victims should report it.

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