Restraining orders

What is a restraining order?

This is an order made by a criminal court to stop a person from continuing to pursue a course of conduct towards another. The order aims to protect a victim of crime from the defendant. It can be for any length of time and could be indefinite. The conduct prohibited will depend upon the type of offending committed by the defendant. Frequently, the order will prohibit contact directly or indirectly with the victim, but could include keeping away from a property or premises.

When is a restraining order imposed?

Before 30 September 2009, restraining orders could only be imposed in relation to defendants convicted of offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 1997). However PHA 1997 was amended by the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (DVCVA 2004) and any person convicted or acquitted of any criminal offence after 30 September 2009 can be made subject to a restraining order. It is up to the court whether such an order is imposed. The prosecution usually applies for the order if the circumstances of the case warrant it and the court will make such an order if considered necessary to protect a person from the defendant.

What is the standard of proof required to make a restraining order?

The legislation does not assist with the standard of proof required.

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For more information on:

  • The contents of a restraining order
  • Variation or discharge of the order
  • Breach of a restraining order