Who goes to prison for breaching an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order? An analysis of police narratives

Prisons Family violence Police Australia New South Wales

Aim: To identify the situational and offender characteristics associated with prison sentences for Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) breaches.

Method: Case narratives from police incident reports of ADVO breach incidents in NSW were analysed. Two samples were examined: (1) breach incidents where the offender involved was imprisoned (n=250) and (2) breach incidents where the offender involved received a non-custodial sentence (n=250). The nature of the breach and the characteristics of persons involved in these two breach samples were compared using descriptive data and logistic regression models.

Results: The majority of ADVO breaches in both samples involved male to female offending in spousal/ex-spousal relationships, occurred in the victim’s house and involved face-to-face contact. Compared with offenders in the non-prison group, a higher proportion of offenders who received a custodial penalty for the breach ADVO matter were male, Indigenous, had 5 or more prior court appearances (including prior offences for domestic violence (DV), assault and breach ADVO), had 3 or more prior prison penalties and had breached two or more conditions of their order. Breaches resulting in prison also had a higher proportion of matters involving physical assault, property damage, psychological aggression and parties who had a history of violence. After controlling for other factors, the following factors were independently associated with imprisonment for ADVO; the offender’s gender, prior imprisonment, prior proven DV offence, history of violence, involvement of physical assault in the breach, victim/offender relationship and residing with the victim.

Conclusion: The profile of offenders who receive imprisonment for a breach ADVO offence is significantly different from those who receive a non-custodial penalty for these offences. The nature of the breach and the circumstances surrounding the event also vary for matters where prison is imposed for an ADVO breach.

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