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Worst DV offenders face bail hurdles, ankle monitors

The presumption of bail will be reversed for high-risk domestic violence offenders in NSW and those who are released will be electronically monitored.

The presumption of bail will be reversed for high-risk domestic violence offenders in NSW and those who are released will be electronically monitored. Photo: AAP

High-risk domestic violence offenders in NSW will either be refused bail or subject to electronic monitoring in “long overdue” plans to keep women and children safe.

Reforms will target the most serious offenders facing a maximum penalty of 14 or more years in jail and defined as those accused of sexual assault, strangulation with intent to commit another offence, kidnapping or coercive control.

The presumption that high-risk offenders can be released on bail will also be reversed, with the onus of proof placed on accused perpetrators to demonstrate why they should be out in the community.

The changes will be introduced to NSW parliament this week and are expected to be passed after Opposition Leader Mark Speakman flagged support for the “general thrust” of the proposal.

Premier Chris Minns says the presumption of bail will be reversed for high-risk domestic violence offenders and those who are released will be electronically monitored.

“There are tens of thousands of domestic violence offences each year …. we’re talking about the most serious or gravest risk to victim-survivors in our community,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

The man accused of the domestic violence-related murder of Forbes woman Molly Ticehurst – a killing that helped spur calls for urgent legal reforms – in April would not have been released on bail under the planned changes.

But another alleged perpetrator, accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend outside an inner-Sydney gym, would still have been allowed into the community as he had only previously been charged with AVO breaches.

Domestic Violence NSW senior policy adviser Bridget Mottram said the reforms were a step forward, but more work needed to be done.

“This is just the start of a process we’re really keen to continue to work with the NSW government on to ensure we’ve got a trauma-informed and safe justice system,” she said.

Offence categories for which bail decisions can be “stayed” while the accused remains in custody will also be expanded.

Bail decision-makers will need to consider a range of risk factors, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, coercive behaviour and stalking.

Registrars will also lose the capacity to sign off on bail in serious domestic violence cases.

Implementing electronic monitoring for people on bail will not be an overnight process, with the premier indicating that an entire system would need to be developed for the program.

NSW currently only subjects people on parole to electronic monitoring.

“We have to buy the technology, implement the regime and get it set up immediately … I’d love to switch it on tomorrow, but it’s not possible,” Minns said.

A woman has been killed every four days across Australia this year, sparking mass rallies and calls for political action at all levels of government.

Meanwhile, the number of adults in custody for domestic violence offences in NSW has reached its highest on record, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

In March 2024, the number of those in custody for domestic violence offences – 3008 – was 63.8 per cent higher than in March 2019.

Domestic violence-related assaults rose by 35.7 per cent, sexual offences by 30.1 per cent and intimidation and stalking by 96.1 per cent over the same period.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

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-AAP

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