GPS tags and tech-sweeping help protect family violence victims

21 March 2022
GPS tags and tech-sweeping help protect family violence victims


March 18, 2022

GPS tags and tech-sweeping help protect family violence victims

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (DHJP) has welcomed a $104 million federal government family violence prevention package, with $20m available to Victoria.

Western Victoria MP Stuart Grimley and Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell have been calling for such funding for a number of years.

The announcement comes as the latest data from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency shows that family violence intervention order breaches remain far too high.

In Geelong, the agency recorded 2436 breach offences in 2021, compared with 1796 in Shepparton. The number of actual breaches may be much higher.

These ballooning statistics indicate that more drastic measures must be taken to stop family violence offenders breaching intervention orders.

DHJP has always been a staunch advocate for the use of global positioning system (GPS) devices to track family violence offenders.

The success of Tasmania’s offender-monitoring scheme shows these devices have a place in family violence responses.

Mr Grimley and Ms Maxwell recently met with a family violence victim whose child’s iPad location service was being used to track the mother. She was found by the offender at a refuge. Despite intervention orders in place and the offender being formally charged with family violence crimes, he still pursued her.

Research shows 99.3pc of family violence practitioners say their clients have been victimised using technology in some form.

In Victoria, the Protective Group offers a service to sweep devices of family violence victims to remove spyware and other GPS tracking applications. This service is currently privately funded, and offered to Orange Door clients, but should be considered eligible for funding from the Commonwealth allocation.

Comments by Stuart Grimley MP:

DHJP has been calling for the use of GPS tracking devices since our election to the Victorian Parliament.

Earlier this year I asked the Minister for Police to consider rolling out additional training to Victoria Police officers to assist victims of crime in sweeping their devices to keep them safe from perpetrators. These funds could go towards this training.

As a former police officer, it was extremely difficult attending a family violence call-out. There are no winners from these horrible offences and often there are children involved. By providing services to clean devices and take away a form of control from offenders, it will make victims feel a little bit safer. I’ve often said that when we fund programs to prevent crime or other on-the-ground problems, we should prioritise the frontline services.

These are the people who have in-depth knowledge of the issues, and often need more support to implement programs and other initiatives.

Comments by Tania Maxwell MP:

I visited Tasmania explicitly to explore Project Vigilance, which trialled the use of electronic monitoring for serious family violence offenders.

Electronic monitoring of serious family violence offenders has been proven to substantially reduce high-risk behaviours, such as assaults, threats and reports of stalking.

The Tasmanian trial recommended expanding the use of electronic monitoring and I see this as an important measure in Victoria to monitor repeat, serious offenders and help keep families safe.

Key outcomes of the trial of electronic monitoring – Project Vigilance (TAS)

  • 76 per cent decrease of high-risk incidents
  • 75pc reduction of assaults
  • 81pc reduction of threats
  • 74pc reduction in property damage
  • 100pc decrease in reports of stalking
  • 80pc of offenders did not re-offend in 6 months following the removal of the electronic monitoring device

Link to Project Vigilance: Evaluation - Project Vigilance - July 2021





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