As domestic violence deaths rise, NSW gov’t ponders more police powers

July 27, 2023
Photo: Pexels Pixabay

New South Wales Police arrested almost 600 people and laid 1100 charges over four days in mid-July in an operation it said was aimed at “stamping out” domestic violence.

Operation Amarok is being promoted as “an intelligence-based policing strategy”, targeting perpetrators of domestic and family violence. It is the third this year, following efforts in February and April; there have been 1884 arrests to date.

Of the recent 600 arrests, NSW Police claimed that 139 are the state’s “most dangerous domestic violence offenders” and 103 had outstanding warrants for violent offences.

The blitz followed police saying that more than half of murders in NSW are domestic violence-related.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon told the ABC that Operation Amarok is key to preventing serious harm. “In order to ensure the safety of actual and potential victims of domestic and family violence, Operation Amarok is a deliberate strategy targeting the most dangerous offenders.”

Lanyon called on the NSW government to enact harsher punishments against perpetrators of domestic violence. Police and counter-terrorism minister Yasmin Catley said Labor would do that.

However, women’s rights organisations have voiced concern with the law-and-order approach.

Tara Hunter, chief executive of women’s counselling service Full Stop Australia, told the ABC on July 16 that giving police more powers will not mean fewer offences. She said the results of the police operation indicated the failings of apprehended domestic violence orders (ADVOs) across NSW.

“What it demonstrates is that there are a lot of people out there that are not complying with ADVOs,” Hunter said. She said an active police response is good, but it has to be “consistent”.

“ADVOs are part of the toolkit. We need the monitoring of the ADVOs and we need the justice response that’s actually timely … we want a service system that’s responsive.

“We know domestic and family violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness, so it’s not just about increasing policing powers; that’s a simplistic response to quite a complex issue.”

Over the four days of the operation, police made 315 applications for ADVOs, served 500 outstanding ADVOs and completed 4882 ADVO compliance checks. But how long those outstanding AVDOs and compliance checks had been put off by police is unknown.

Figures from Our Watch show that, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. FullStop Australia reported on July 17 that, so far this year, 33 lives had been taken — a worrying upwards trend.

The ABC said NSW is on track to reach its highest offence rate for family and domestic violence charges in more than three years.

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