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Getting help from the police

How should I contact the police?

The most immediate concern of anyone who has been assaulted, had property damaged or experienced other abusive behaviour is to get protection. This can be done by calling the police.

In an emergency: 000

For police attendance: 131 444

A person calling the police should give their name and address, explain the situation and its urgency, and ask for the name of the officer. If the police fail to come in a short time, the person should call again, and keep calling. If this is not effective, the person should call the Domestic and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Service on 1800 800 098 and that service can then be asked to contact the police as well.

Each Adelaide metropolitan police area has a Family Violence Investigation Section staffed by police officers trained to assist victims seeking an intervention order and investigate reports of family violence. The contact details for these sections are as follows:

Police Family Violence Investigation Sections

Eastern Adelaide Local Service Area Telephone: 8172 5890

Elizabeth Local Service Area Telephone: 8207 9381

Holden Hill Local Service Area Telephone: 8207 6150

Western Adelaide Local Service Area Telephone: 8207 6413

South Coast Local Service Area Telephone: 8392 9172

Sturt Local Service Area Telephone: 8207 4801

What can the police do?

The police have a duty to prevent breaches of the peace and to deal with people who have committed criminal offences even though the behaviour complained of may be occurring in a home. The police have the ability and authority to counter violence, as well as the power of arrest. Remember, an assault can be committed even without physical contact, see CRIMINAL AND TRAFFIC OFFENCES, Common Offences, Offences against the person, Assault.

Police can:

  • issue an interim intervention order requiring the perpetrator to leave the premises (even if the perpetrator owns or rents the premises)
  • require a perpetrator to stay in a particular place for up to two hours (or longer with the permission of the Court) while they prepare an interim intervention order or while a Court makes a decision about an interim intervention order
  • apply to Court for an intervention order on behalf of a person if they are unable or unwilling to make an interim intervention order
  • enter a home to investigate a claim that family violence occurred within the home
  • charge the perpetrator with a criminal offence (such as assault or property damage)
  • make bail conditions so that perpetrator is not able to contact the victim or children and additionally not attend anywhere they live, work or go to school
  • reprimand but take no further action.

The police may also assist a person who has been assaulted to leave the premises unmolested and:

  • assist a person by arranging for them to get to a safe place by contacting the Domestic And Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Service, which can arrange immediate accommodation, particularly if the person has children.

The action taken by the police will depend on the seriousness of the behaviour that has brought them to the premises. Often the action will depend on the attitude of the victim. However if the police have evidence that an offence has taken place it is police policy to take action. It is not left up to the victim to decide whether the perpetrator will be charged with an offence, but the victim can ask that a charge be laid. A person arrested by the police will be taken to the police station and charged, see ARREST, YOUR RIGHTS AND BAIL, Arrest and questioning.

A victim of violence who feels that a criminal charge should be laid should insist upon this course of action. A victim who feels that the police are being unresponsive should ask to speak to an officer in the Family Violence Investigation Section who may be able to assist. Support through a domestic violence service or getting legal advice may also help. If the police still refuse to lay charges and the victim feels their refusal is unjustified a detailed written complaint should be made to the Police Ombudsman, see COMPLAINTS, Complaints against police.

Getting help from the police  :  Last Revised: Tue Mar 25th 2014
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.