Private investigators are being duped by clients on restraining orders to lead them to their victims




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DOMESTIC abusers are using private investigators to hunt former partners who have gone into hiding.

Private detectives admitted they were being duped by clients who were subject to restraining orders, and unwittingly leading the offenders to their victims.

The revelation sparked a call from Police Association secretary Greg Davies to amend privacy legislation to allow licensed investigators to access limited IVO information.

One investigator said he was approached by a man trying to track a woman living in a shelter in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.

If we have people unwittingly tracking down victims for potential offenders it is counter-intuitive

Another investigator said he turned down requests from a client who was later involved in a murder-suicide attempt with a former partner in the city's southeast.

"All these IVOs are recorded on a database and licensed practitioners should be able to access limited details to see if there is an IVO," Sen-Sgt Davies said.

"That will solve it. If we have people unwittingly tracking down victims for potential offenders it is counter-intuitive."

Harjan Investigations owner Wayne Edwards said investigators were forced to rely on their gut instincts when vetting clients.

"I get a lot of inquiries regarding locating ex-girlfriends or wives and the common question I ask is whether there are any active court orders between the parties, and in most cases the answer is no," Mr Edwards said.

"We have a duty of care, we are registered by the police but we have no control.

"I try to vet these people the best I can by asking various questions to help identify any possible red flags."

Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Service interim chief executive Janene Evans supported the call by the Police Association.

"We are constantly working with police and justice to improve the system and any change will be a benefit," Ms Evans said.

"The IVO system works in most cases but we need to stop this small minority of men who have no respect for the law."

A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed the names of both parties on an intervention order could not be released - even to private detectives - under current legislation.

"Legislation under the Victims Charter Act dictates that a victim's personal information is not to be disclosed by any person except in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2000," she said.

"Victoria Police work within a strict legislative framework to ensure the privacy of victims is protected.

"Police want victims of any crime to have the confidence to come forward and report with the knowledge that their personal information will be protected and their safety will be upheld."

The Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Service can be reached on 1800 015 188.





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