Almost one-third of people convicted for breaching
protection orders in Otago during the past five financial years
were imprisoned for the crime.
Statistics obtained by the Otago Daily Times under the
Official Information Act showed that of the 261 people
convicted in Otago courts for breaching protection orders
from July 2008 to June 2013, 31.4% were sentenced to
From July 2012 to June 2013, 38.2% were imprisoned.
Nationally, 28.45% of people convicted for breaching
protection orders were imprisoned during the five-year
University of Otago dean of law Prof Mark Henaghan said the
numbers showed that courts, particularly in Otago, took
''There's a reasonable number that are being put into
prison,'' he said.
''It's good to see the courts are using imprisonment.''
Protection order breaches rose to national prominence in
January, when it emerged Edward Livingstone, who shot his two
children before turning the gun on himself at his former St
Leonards home, had breached a protection order, applied for
by his estranged wife, twice before the killings.
The number of people imprisoned showed courts took the
protection of victims into account when sentencing, Prof
This was reassuring, as one of his concerns was when a breach
''goes to court the perpetrator's story gets heard, but I'm
not sure the victim's does'', he said.
The percentage of people sentenced to community work (24.1%
in Otago and 24.4% nationally) was worrying because it did
not provide any protection to the victim, he said.
''If you don't stamp on this fairly hard, you are likely to
get these sort of instances happening again.''
Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin Women's Refuge outreach worker
Amanda Durham said the number imprisoned was higher than she
thought it would have been, but breaches which were ignored
or discharged without conviction worried her.
More than 20 people were discharged without conviction (9.2%
of all convictions) for breaches in Otago from July 2008 to
''There should be none,'' she said.
''A breach is a breach. It's not a grey area. There are clear
conditions in an order. Our court system has a responsibility
to send a strong message that it's a serious issue,'' she
New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse director Janet
Fanslow said questions needed to be asked about what measures
were being taken to keep victims safe if offenders were
discharged without conviction or sentenced to community work.
Whatever decision courts made after a conviction, they needed
to ''focus on the victim's safety and accountability of the
She also believed there needed to be more work in
discouraging violence by educating offenders about the
conditions of protection orders and dangers of domestic