On January 1, 2009 the Temporary Restraining Order Act entered into force allowing mayors to impose a ten-day restraining order on potential perpetrators of domestic violence. This restraining order, which may be extended to 28 days, prohibits the perpetrator from entering his or her house as well as from contacting the persons staying behind in the home (partner, children, or other members of the household). In order to impose a temporary restraining order, risk factors relating to the perpetrator, the incident, and the family have to be assessed using a domestic violence risk assessment tool (RiHG).The immediate cause to introduce the Act was to enable mayors to take action in situations that, before, would not have given police just cause to intervene because no offences had (yet) been committed. However, evaluations show that temporary restraining orders are mainly imposed in conjunction with criminal proceedings. Yet, researchers suggest that the temporary restraining order may be imposed as a truly preventive measure in a large amount of situations that until now have not been considered (for instance, situations that have not escalated into physical violence). This article examines whether such preventive restraining orders exist within a sample of imposed orders and if so, what characteristics they share.Results show that truly preventive restraining orders are extremely rare. Closer inspection of cases that according to the available risk assessment were not notably violent showed that most of these cases could not be regarded as cases of truly preventive restraining orders. The discussion of the article focuses on the implications of these results for the suggestion that a large number of situations could be suitable for imposing a preventive restraining order.
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