Applications for Protection Orders in NZ
Statistics from July 1998 - March 2003
The graphs on this page have been prepared from data supplied by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice. They used the description "Details Relating to Applications for Domestic Protection Orders recorded in FCDB for the 21 courts using the database from July 1998 to March 2003". In their notes, they point out that "the final column of their data was for 9 months only as courts began to change to using the new Case Management System Database." We have added 33.3% to their figures to approximate the full July 2002 - June 2003 year. They also noted that "the 21 courts represent approximately 80% of the national Family Court volumes."
Note that the figures have not been adjusted to take account of New Zealand's increasing population. The trends would be even more pronounced if this was done.
Domestic Protection Orders Declining
The total number of applications for Domestic Protection Orders has been steadily falling over the past few years. Some of this decrease may be because relationships are becoming less violent, but a proportion will be due to the increasing recognition by the courts that protection orders are being misused for tactical advantage in custody and access disputes.
The graphs presented in the final issue of the COSA (Casualties of Sexual Allegations) newsletter showed a dramatic decline in the numbers of fathers complaining about false sexual abuse accusations when the 1995 Domestic Violence Act was introduced in 1996. With children being automatically included on a protection order, whether or not there was any evidence that they were unsafe, DPOs became the new weapon of choice for women prepared to abuse the system to exclude fathers from their children's lives.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to obtain data for the first two years (1996 - 1997) the Domestic Violence Act was in effect.
More Orders On Notice instead of Ex-Parte
In the late 1990s it was common for orders to be issued ex-parte - the respondent (usually a man) was given no opportunity to present his version of events. This has been one of the biggest causes of anger among separated fathers, and one of the main drivers behind protests about New Zealand's Family Courts, which have been widespread since the end of 2000. The next graph suggests that some Judges at least are becoming more likely to refuse to issue orders ex-parte when there is no clear need to do so.
Lawyers may be getting the message; although the majority of applications are still filed ex-parte, the number is falling somewhat faster than can be accounted for by the drop in the overall total.
Conversely, the number of applications filed on-notice is increasing.
Types of Orders Made
The number of Temporary Orders made is falling:
The number of Final Orders is falling as well. This data shows that only 35% - 38% of applications become Final Orders - the majority are struck out, withdrawn or discharged.
Fewer men sent to Living Without Violence Programmes
The last graph shows that the number of Respondents and Associated Respondents directed to attend programmes such as Living Without Violence has fallen significantly. It appears that current referrals may be less than 65% of what they were five years ago, which will have a profound economic effect on the Stopping (Male) Violence industry. It is also interesting to see that the number of men sent to programmes is consistently higher than the number of Temporary Orders made - nearly 400 more in the 1998-99 period. Presumably this is accounted for by "Associated Respondents",