Labour calls for review of protection orders

Labour has added its voice to calls for a review of legal protection orders following the tragic deaths of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone at the hands of their father Edward Livingstone.

Livingstone, who killed himself after shooting his children, was last year convicted twice for breaching a protection order taken out by his wife and had spoken of killing his family.

"This heart-breaking waste of lives should never have happened," Labour's women's affairs spokeswoman Carol Beaumont said.

"It raises many questions about how we deal with family violence and shows we need to have a serious rethink on the effectiveness of protection orders.

"A review of the process should look at targeting early intervention - providing more resources and support to both parties."

Ms Beaumont said it was worth considering broadening the scope of police safety orders which would allow police to initiate a protection order where they deemed a situation to be dangerous rather than relying on a potential victim to apply for an order.

"But we particularly need to look at how the police and courts respond to breaches of protection orders," she said.

Labour justice spokesman Andrew Little said more tools may be needed by the courts and police to make protection orders more effective.

"This could include a requirement for a risk assessment of offenders on a second or subsequent breach of a protection order, something that is already done on bail applications.

"Another consideration is for District Courts to take over the issuing of protection orders from the Family Court. This would move the focus from one of conciliation to one of enforcement."

"That a number of agencies working on the frontline have expressed concerns about our current legislation is a clear message that things aren't working," Ms Beaumont said.

"We need to be vigilant in this area, especially where the risks are so high, and ensure that our responses are effective in providing protection."

Chief executive of Women's Refuge Heather Henare said there needed to be a stronger response to protection order breaches.

"We need to concentrate on the fact that there is a link between breaches of protection orders and domestic violence murders in this country.

"People who threaten to kill should be treated in the most high risk category with strong consequences."

Ms Henare all breaches of protection orders "should be treated with the full force of our law".

"This tragic incident is the worst kind of wake up call for this country around the severity and frequency of domestic and family violence in our communities."

- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

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