At Christmas my girlfriend called the police when she was drunk and said I had assaulted her. The allegation was completely untrue and I denied any wrong doing in the police interview. I was released with no further action. I have never been arrested before but on release the police served me with a Domestic Violence Protection Notice and informed me that I could not contact my girlfriend or return home. This seems very unfair. I have not done anything wrong. Can the police stop me returning home?
From 8 March 2014, the police have been given additional powers, under the Crime and Security Act 2010, to prevent people arrested for domestic violence offences that are released without charge, from contacting the original complainant or attending their address for up to 48 hours after release. This is the DVPN that has been issued to you. Conditions may also exclude a person from a particular area. The 48 hour period does not include any Sunday or any Bank Holiday.
A DVPN cannot be authorised by a rank below a superintendent but can only be issued to a person over 18 if there are reasonable grounds for believing:-
- The person has been violent towards, or has threatened violence towards an associated person, and
- The issue of the DVPN is necessary to protect that person from violence or a threat of violence by the person.
If you do not comply with the DVPN conditions you can be arrested and brought in custody before the Magistrates court which will hear an application to impose a Domestic Violence Protection Order. (DVPO)
Within 48 hours of the DVPN being issued the police must submit an application to the magistrates for a DVPO. A DVPO can include any conditions believed necessary. This Order can be in force from 14 days up to a maximum of 28 days and a breach of the Order can result in a maximum fine of £5000 or 2 months imprisonment.
The Police must consider the opinion of the alleged victim before issuing the DVPN but can proceed even if your partner does not want it imposed. In effect these Orders can be made on the basis of mere suspicion without the normal rules of evidence required to secure a conviction.
Contact a solicitor immediately if you wish to challenge a DVPN or DVPO. Legal advice at the police station is free and representations can be made to police to seek to avoid a DVPN. Legal aid may also be available at court to challenge to DVPO.
Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.