Domestic violence cases go cold as cops battle red tape
DOMESTIC violence victims are being left out in the cold as Queensland police officers struggle under "mountains" of paperwork before having a chance to investigate abusive family thugs.
The problem arises from officers spending inordinate amounts of time completing the paperwork that is necessary to put domestic violence orders before magistrates.
This means the actual allegations of violence are not investigated until after the DVO process is completed.
The state's domestic violence workload is on the climb with DVO applications increasing by 9% in the 2015-16 financial year and breaches of orders rising by 14%.
Queensland Police Union North Coast region representative Sergeant Grant Wilcox urged the State Government to make getting DVOs easier so his colleagues were no longer buried under "mountains of protocol, administration paperwork and computer engagement".
"What I am saying is that domestic violence administration is taking up too much of our time," Sergeant Wilcox writes in the latest Queensland Police Union journal.
"Officers want nothing more than to address domestic violence from the get go.
"The legislation allows the first matter to be an application and at any other time that same information is a potential criminal offence."
Sergeant Wilcox said Queensland politicians needed to "stand up and make our job easier".
"Is nobody in government listening?," he asked.
"We desperately need this process shortened because we are unable to attend breaches of domestic violence or other calls for service while we spend hours hamstrung doing the applications.
"The priority is the criminal offences - that's why we throw on a uniform, to protect people."
A spokeswoman for Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Minister Shannon Fentiman said the government was considering legislative changes to streamline the DVO process.
"The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services has worked closely with Queensland police to examine how legislative changes could enhance the ability of police to provide tailored protection to victims early, including through the use of police protection notices," the spokeswoman said.
"Police on the front line want to spend more of their time out there helping people so we are trying to get the balance right and achieve efficiencies for police while maintaining appropriate safeguards."
A spokeswoman for Acting Police Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the government was aware of the burden on officers.
"The government and QPS are working to streamline operational policy and legislative framework while maintaining the safety of victims as our number one priority," Dr Lynham said.
For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811
MensLine on 1800 600 636
NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463
or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
- ARM NEWSDESK