An amendment made to the Security Police Law in May 1997 (Gesetz zum Schutz vor Gewalt in der Familie) grants the Austrian law and order forces a new power in order to improve the safety situation of persons affected by acts of violence in their domestic environment (normally women and children). In cases where it is suspected that an act of violence has been committed in the home and that further acts of violence can be reckoned with, the possibility now exists to remove persons posing a danger to the physical safety of other persons in the home from that home and, where necessary, forbid them to return. The only possibility that existed previously apart from cases in which there were reasons for arrest was to advise the victim to seek safe refuge. The measure referred to above can last for a period of up to seven days, after which the victim has the possibility of applying for an injunction from a civil court to extend the time of the ban on returning for three months.
In 1998, the amendment in the Security Police Law led to 2673 interventions in families.
The law and order forces are co-operating with the five "intervention centres" for the protection of victims of violence in the family in the areas of Graz, Vienna, Innsbruck, Linz and Salzburg, which are supported by the Federal Ministry for Women's Affairs and the Federal Minister of the Interior. These facilities are intended as 'victim welfare centres' and direct their services towards women and their children suffering from violence within the family. It should be emphasised that the assistance is free of charge and confidential and is available to all women and their children regardless of nationality.
The amendment improved the protection and safety of persons affected by acts of violence in their domestic environments.