Breach of a protection order
If the conditions of a protection order are broken (breached) by a respondent spouse, a criminal offence has been committed, and can be dealt with by the police.
Women should report the breach to the police immediately so that they can take action. If the breach is not reported, the perpetrator of the abuse may consider the protection order to be useless and continue to abuse her. This is a crucial step that women can take to enforce their orders – the next step relies on the police response.
Women report a varied police response from being very helpful to being of no help at all. It can therefore be important that she has someone with her for support if possible when she reports a breach. If women find that they do not get a good response from the first officer they speak to, they should ask to speak to the officer in charge or to the local domestic violence liaison officer.
Community services such domestic violence services and community legal centres may also advocate on behalf. Supporting evidence such as doctor’s reports, photographs, letters, taped messages on answering machines or information from witnesses may be crucial.
A breach can be punished by doing a community service; be put on a good behaviour bond; pay a fine or imprisonment. However, the punishment is decided by a Court and it may not impose these sorts of penalties if it does not think the breach was a serious offence in itself.