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Role of police in family violence

Information about the role of police in family violence matters.

Police may be involved in investigating, laying charges and prosecuting offences of family violence.

They also apply for intervention orders on behalf of people who they believe are in need of protection, even if the affected family member does not want the order to be made. The most important aim of police intervention is to increase the safety and support for victims of family violence.

Police powers

Police have the power to:

  • direct
  • detain
  • search and seize
  • apply for an (after hours) safety notice or interim intervention order
  • apply for an intervention order
  • make an arrest.

It is also usually the police who serve intervention order applications and interim and final orders on the respondent.

Additional powers

Police have additional powers to intervene when this is needed outside court hours. Police have the power to:

  • issue safety notices
  • enter and search a premises without a warrant if they believe that:
    • there are grounds for the issue of a safety notice
    • the person has access to weapons.

See Weapons and family violence.

Code of practice

In 2004 the Victorian Police introduced a code of practice for investigating family violence. The third edition was launched in December 2014 (see Victoria Police—Code of practice for the investigation of family violence). The code includes information about the way police:

  • protect victims of violence, including children
  • encourage reporting of incidents of family violence
  • hold perpetrators of family violence accountable
  • partner with other agencies to support an integrated response to family violence
  • thoroughly assess and manage risk
  • apply for civil protections such as family violence safety notices and family violence intervention orders
  • increase successful prosecutions
  • minimise trauma experienced by victims and their support people during the process of police intervention
  • make appropriate referrals
  • encourage reporting of incidents to Victoria police
  • intervene early and stop family violence
  • achieve good practice through an appropriate, consistent, transparent and accountable response to, and investigation of, family valence
  • support an integrated response to family violence in partnership with government and non-government agencies.

All police have been given training in the code.

See Investigating a complaint.

More information


Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)

  • Part 3—police protection before court

See Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic).


Victoria Police Code of Practice

See Victoria Police—Code of practice for the investigation of family violence.