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A term often heard around the New South Wales Local Court but seldom understood is the term “Domestic Violence Liaison Officers”.
DVLOs (as they are usually known) are specially trained and assigned police officers who assist with the conduct of hearings surrounding allegations of Domestic Violence. They are serving, badged police officers who, as well as their court duties, often are the “officer in charge” in relation to complex prosecutions.
Most Local Courts have particular days of the week where allegations of Domestic Violence are listed. On these days defendants can enter pleas, can have their matters dealt with to finality, or have them adjourned for evidentiary hearings on a later date.
A large part of these days involves dealing with the Apprehended Violence orders (AVOs) that police routinely take out on behalf of alleged victims. The terms of these AVOs can be long and involved, and significant time needs to be spent by police speaking to alleged victims as well as the representatives for the defendants.
The alleged victims are usually able to stay away from the court room itself in what are commonly known as “safe rooms”. These safe rooms are not really anything more than a comfortable and safe spot for an alleged victim to wait for their matter to be called. These rooms are usually in the court building, meaning the DVLOs can easily find the alleged victim to discuss the matter.
If the terms of an AVO cannot be agreed, often it will fall to the magistrate to adjudicate what orders (if any) should be in place pending the final hearing of the matter. The alleged victim will often need to give evidence as to the fears they say they feel and why they say an interim order is necessary for their protection.
These AVO days are always days of high emotion. Whether the AVO relates to a couple who are still together, a couple who have separated, or some other situation of family violence, tensions are always running high. DVLOs play an important role in the smooth running of the court and ensuring that the prosecutors in court have appropriate instructions and assistance to allow them to run their matters.
Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov © 123RF.com
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