When investigating and responding to situations that involve family violence, police officers can make a temporary restraining order, called a Police Order.
An Police Order makes it unlawful for a family member to do certain things in order to try and stop them from committing family violence or exposing a child to family violence. Police Orders can last for up to 72 hours, and can help give you protection from a family member while you decide if you want to apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order.
- when the police can make a Police Order
- what restrictions can be included in a Police Order, and
- what to do if you have been served with a Police Order.
When can the police make a Police Order?
Police Orders are designed to give temporary protection against the risk of family violence. They can be made in situations where a police officer reasonably believes an FVRO could be made and:
- there is an urgent need for a restraining order to be made, or
- it is not practical to physically go to a court and apply in person for an FVRO (often because the court may be shut at the time).
The police officer must believe the Police Order is necessary to help protect the person from a family member, even if the person hasn’t asked for a Police Order or an FVRO.
- must consider making a Police Order in situations where there are good reasons to suspect that family violence has occurred.
- can arrest and charge someone if there is enough evidence to show the person has committed an offence, which can include committing acts of family violence.
How is a Police Order issued?
Police Orders are written on special forms. The police officer will fill in the details of the Police Order, including:
- the name of the person protected
- the name of the person bound
- the time and date the order expires, and
- the restraints imposed on the person bound by the order.
A copy will be given to the person protected by the order, and a copy will be served on the person bound by the order.
A Police Order does not take effect until a copy is given to the person bound by the order, and then normally lasts for 72 hours.
The Police Order must be served within 24 hours after it is made. The police can tell someone to wait with them, or go with the police to the station, so they can be served with a Police Order.
What restraints can be included in a police order?
Police Orders usually contain many of the same restraints that are included in an FVRO. These can be whatever the police officer thinks is appropriate to address the risk of family violence, such as stopping the person bound by the order from:
- coming to or near where you live or work
- being at or near a certain place
- coming within a certain distance of you
- contacting or trying to communicate with you in any way.
If the person bound by the order breaks any of those restrictions, they are committing a criminal offence.
The police can include a condition that the person bound by the order has one opportunity to collect their personal items from somewhere they used to live or work (usually with a police officer).
What if I have been served with a Police Order?
It is very important that you read the Police Order carefully. The fact that you were given a Police Order does not go on your criminal record. But the police will keep a note that they made a Police Order against you and it can come up in other court proceedings (including applications for an FVRO or bail applications for criminal charges).
If you break any of the restrictions included in the Police Order before it expires, you could be arrested and charged with an offence. It is not a defence to say that the person protected by the order gave you permission to come home, or that they contacted you first. A conviction for breaching a Police Order will go on your criminal record.
If you have been given a Police Order and want counselling, support, or emergency accommodation, you can find more information under Get help with family violence and your safety.
Reviewed: 1 May 2020