Shame list flagged for wife beaters

Started by slayton, Oct 16, 2010, 10:22 AM

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Shame list flagged for wife beaters
    * Liam Houlihan and Sue Hewitt
    * From: Sunday Herald Sun
    * October 17, 2010 12:40AM

VICTORIA will push for federal laws to allow police across the country to track domestic violence offenders.

The plan, to be considered at a meeting of the nation's attorneys-general in December, would help stop thugs who bash women going interstate and offending again.

"Victoria's domestic violence and sexual assault laws lead the nation and a national approach to intervention orders is an important next step," Government spokesman Stephen Moynihan said.

"A future Brumby Labor Government will work with the Commonwealth and other states to achieve this."

Thousands of offenders could be kept on a "shame list" as police and the courts struggle to cope with an increase in violent attacks on women by their partners.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland is working with states and territories to establish a scheme for the automatic nationwide registration of domestic and family violence orders against thugs.

"The working group is examining a range of measures including establishing a database to assist police to enforce domestic violence orders across state and territory borders," a spokesman for the Attorney-General said.

"This would provide law enforcement authorities in the new state with information about a victim's past vulnerability."

Domestic violence victim Emily Twigg said the register would be a step forward for women.

"This will help protect women from the worst kind of repeat offenders," Ms Twigg said.

"It is only right that thugs who abuse women don't get a chance to reoffend just by changing states.

"I applaud those pushing these reforms to empower police to monitor violent offenders and protect the community."

Domestic violence expert Prof Cathy Humphreys welcomed the move and said it would attract widespread support.

But she did not support women having access to the register to assess potential partners because it would complicate the issue.

"We have to get all the states to agree and with the issue of privacy it would make the proposal too cumbersome - we have to take it one step at a time," she said.

Justice advocate Steve Medcraft said if authorities allowed the public to check the register it could save lives.

"Wife beaters don't have a certain look and if women could check out men, it could protect them," he said.

He called for the proposal to go further and record reports, as well as convictions, for domestic violence.

"Some women never press charges, but it doesn't mean there isn't any domestic violence," Mr Medcraft said.

"But if suspicions or reports of incidents were also recorded, police could establish a pattern of behaviour and if an emergency call comes in about a suspected offender, they will realise it could be a dangerous situation."

Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said the register meant that if the offender moved interstate local authorities would known they were a serial offender.

He wanted to beef up the proposal by making it compulsory for people on the register to notify police if they dramatically changed their appearance or moved states.

The Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault Forum convenor Carolyn Worth said that presently if an offender with an intervention order crossed borders, local police were unaware of the court order.

She did not support calls for the register to be public because it created a "lynch mentality" and offenders could change their behaviour.

With Laura Speranza

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