From Saturday, 8 March 2014, police have been afforded additional powers to prevent people arrested for domestic violence offences & released without charge contacting the original complainant or attending at their address for a period of between 14 to 28 days following release.

A Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) is an initial notice issued by the police to provide emergency protection to an individual believed to be the victim of domestic violence. It contains prohibitions that effectively bar the suspected perpetrator from returning to the victim’s home (which may also be the suspect’s home) or otherwise contacting the alleged victim.

The other person does not have to consent to the issuing of a DVPN. Nor is it necessary for the other person to have given a statement.

Within 48 hours of the DVPN being issued (excluding weekends and bank holidays), the police must submit an application to the magistrates court for a Domestic Violence Prevention Order (DVPO). A DVPO can be imposed with whatever conditions the Court feel necessary to protect the injured party from violence or threat of violence. A DVPO will be in force for 14 – 28 days.

Breach of the order can result in a maximum sentence of either £5000 or 2 months imprisonment.

This does raise the question of fairness? A suspect can be effectively evicted from their own home for up to one month, even where the other party does not consent.

We could also end up with a situation whereby someone with no previous convictions and having been released no further action from the police station, receives a custodial sentence and therefore a criminal record for breach of a DVPO when he or she has committed no offence in the first place. Whilst I understand the need for protection of victims of domestic violence, there is clearly scope for abuse, misinterpretation and exaggeration.

Sharp eyed readers will note that such orders can be granted on the basis of suspicion alone! Orders can be granted without the normal rules of evidence required for a conviction.

It remains to be seen how these will work in practice and how often the orders will be utilised.

Given the short timescales for court hearings, it is essential that a suspect obtains advice as soon as possible. Free legal advice is available from David Gray Solicitors LLP to all suspects at the police station, by requesting them by name. Representations can be made at this stage to avoid a DVPN.

Once a DVPN has been issued, David Gray have experienced solicitors available at short notice to represent suspects. They can be contacted 24 hours a day on 077649 29487. Visit http://www.davidgray.co.uk for more information.