Police Powers

Check your region below for more information on the powers that police have in cases of family and domestic violence.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

Under the Domestic and Family Violence Act, police in the Northern Territory have the power to enter premises on a reasonable belief that there are grounds for making a protection order, and where they believe it is necessary to remove a person from the property to prevent an imminent risk of family violence – such as harm to another person or damage to property.

The police may conduct searches of the person and the property, seize items (such as firearms or offensive weapons) or make arrests.

The police can arrest any person suspected to have committed family violence without a warrant. Any person arrested may be detained for a reasonable period to determine charges. The police will also carry out a risk assessment or safety audit, implement safety measures and make and serve a Police Domestic Violence Order.

ACT

Under the Crimes Act, the police have the power to enter premises, without a warrant, where they suspect that domestic violence has been or is likely to be committed.

The police may conduct searches (both of people and property), seize items or make arrests.

The police can arrest any person suspected to have committed domestic violence without a warrant. Any person arrested may be detained for a reasonable period to determine charges. The police will also carry out a risk assessment or safety audit, implement safety measures, and may make and serve an emergency order.

There is a pro-arrest and pro-charge policy for domestic violence incidents reported to police.

Risk Assessment

This is an assessment of the risk posed to the victim of family violence and any affected children and the likelihood of reoccurrence or escalation by the alleged offender.

The police may offer the victim a link to support by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service who work in partnership with police.

Safety Audit

This is an assessment of the safety of the victim’s home.

The Domestic Violence Crisis Service assist people subjected to violence to access safe accommodation.

Western Australia

Police officers have an obligation to investigate a situation if they:

  • have a reasonable suspicion a person is committing an act of family and domestic violence that is also a criminal offence; or
  • where the safety of a person is at risk.

If police have reasonable suspicion that an act of family and domestic violence was committed, the officer may, with the approval of a senior officer, enter and search premises.

Officers may remain on the premises:

  • as long as necessary to investigate whether act of family and domestic violence has occurred;
  • to ensure there is not imminent danger of a person committing an act of family and domestic violence;
  • to render such assistance as may be necessary.

In doing so a police officer may use such force or assistance as is necessary and reasonable in the circumstances.

If police investigate or enter premises, they must:

  • apply for a restraining order;
  • make a police order; or
  • make a written record of the reasons why no action was taken to make an application or an order.

NSW

Under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), the police have the power to enter premises without a warrant (if you invite them in), where they suspect that domestic violence has been or is likely to be committed.

The police may investigate whether domestic violence has occurred, conduct searches (both of people and property), seize items or make arrests.

If the police believe that domestic violence has occurred, they have the power to issue an ‘On the Spot’ ADVO for your protection.

Victoria

Under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 police have powers to enter premises without a warrant using reasonable force, where they reasonably believe that person:

  • has assaulted or threatened to assault a family member;
  • is on the premises in contravention of a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) or a Family Violence Safety Notice (FVSN);
  • is a directed person who is refusing or failing, or has refused or failed to comply with lawful direction

Police also have powers to issue a family violence safety notice which may remove a perpetrator from the premises.

South Australia

If a protection order requires a person to surrender specified weapons and articles, the police may enter and search any premises or vehicle where such a weapon or article is reasonably suspected to be under Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 (SA) section 37.  Police may issue interim intervention orders against perpetrators if it appears to the police that there are grounds for issuing an intervention order.

Even before an arrest has been made the police may, without a warrant, undertake a search, however police holding search warrants have wider powers to search such as breaking into a house or car.

The police may arrest anyone suspected of committing an offence and they do not need a warrant to arrest you. The police must make it clear to you by words or action that you are under arrest. If you are under arrest, you are not free to go. If you are unsure, ask the police if you are under arrest or you have to go with them. Police may use as much force as is reasonably necessary to arrest a person including using handcuffs or restraints.

Tasmania

Under the Family Violence Act, the police have the power to enter premises, without a warrant, where they suspect that family violence has been or is likely to be committed.

The police may conduct searches (both of people and property), seize items or make arrests.

The police can arrest any person suspected to have committed family violence without a warrant. Any person arrested may be detained for a reasonable period to determine charges. The police will also carry out a risk assessment or safety audit, implement safety measures and make and serve a Police Family Violence Order.

Risk Assessment

This is an assessment of the risk posed to the victim of family violence and any affected children and the likelihood of reoccurrence or escalation by the alleged offender.

Safety Audit

This is an assessment of the safety of the victim’s home.

Queensland

Under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, the police have the power to enter premises, without a warrant, where they suspect that domestic violence is or has been committed, and may stay on the premises for the time reasonably necessary to ensure that an imminent risk of domestic violence does not exist on the premises.

The police may conduct searches (both of people and property), seize items or make arrests.

The police can arrest any person reasonably suspected to have committed domestic violence without a warrant. Any person arrested may be detained for a reasonable period to determine charges. The police will also carry out a risk assessment or safety audit, implement safety measures and apply for a Protection Order, also known as a Domestic Violence Order (DVO), in respect of that person.