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Getting help from 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 Violence Crisis Line on 1800 800 098 and that service can then be asked to contact the police as well.

Each Adelaide district 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 District Telephone: (08) 7322 4890

Northern Adelaide District Telephone: (08) 8207 9381

Western Adelaide District Telephone: (08) 8207 6413

Southern Adelaide District Telephone: (08) 8392 9172

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.

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 the perpetrator is not able to contact the victim or children and additionally not attend anywhere they live, work or go to school;
  • provide information pursuant to the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme regarding a perpetrator's previous convictions, intervention orders, police reports and charges laid;
  • reprimand but take no further action.

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

  • assist a person by arranging for them to get to a safe place by contacting the Domestic Violence Crisis Line, 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 been brought to their attention. 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.

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, the Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance 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 can be made to the Office for Public Integrity, see COMPLAINTS.

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

The Police also administer the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, where a person at risk of domestic violence can request certain information from the Police regarding a partner or ex partner's previous interactions with the Police.

Information that can be disclosed includes:

  • convictions for relevant offences (including offences committed interstate);
  • current or historical intervention orders and any breaches of those orders; and
  • relevant Police reports and any charges laid.

A person requesting access to such information will also be connected with domestic violence specialist support services.

To access the scheme a person must complete an application form, which is available via the SAPOL - Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme website, or which can be completed in person at a police station.

Information sheets and brochures on the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme can also be obtained via the SAPOL website.

In an emergency: 000

For police attendance: 131 444

Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1800 800 098

1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732.

Getting help from the police  :  Last Revised: Mon Jul 1st 2019
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.