Court rules changed to support family violence information sharing
Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced new information sharing rules between family and criminal courts as a part of the Government’s work to help reduce the harm caused by family violence.
The new rules allow judges to access more information, including affidavits, victim impact statements, and summaries of facts from family violence proceedings that weren’t previously easily available to them.
“Rules about whether the family court and criminal court can share information with each other have been relaxed so that judges in these courts will be able to better share more case information about family violence perpetrators,” says Ms Adams.
Each year about 1200 people who have had a protection order made against them in the Family Court are also involved in family violence-related proceedings in the criminal court.
Family court judges considering granting a protection order will now be able to get information such as the sentencing notes from family violence charges involving the perpetrator in the criminal court. For the first time, this can also include family violence history involving previous relationships.
Ms Adams says criminal court judges will also have more access to case information from the family court.
“Before now, this could be shared only if there had been a protection order in place when the family violence offence happened. The extra information will support criminal court judges making decisions such as whether to grant bail or set sentence conditions,” says Ms Adams.
This announcement follows the launch of a pilot programme last week which will see judges in Porirua and Christchurch provided with a family violence police summary report when making bail decisions in family violence cases.
“These changes are part of the comprehensive suite of initiatives this Government has underway to improve the way we address family violence,” says Ms Adams.