Guards taking over in court

January 01, 2018

ECHUCA Magistrates Court now has court security officers.

And everyone going into the court while it is in session, for any reason, has to pass through hand-held metals checks and allow bag checks.

Yet the Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said it wasn’t anywhere near enough to fix the problems with the court house.

The CSOs took up their posts for the first time on December 19 — as well as controlling traffic in and out of the court they also do regular sweeps of the surrounding areas.

Mr Walsh said the main things the court and the people who use it desperately need were separate entrances and private consultation rooms.

‘‘It is extremely frustrating for everyone that the promise to fix the situation at the Echuca court house is still just empty words,’’ he said.

‘‘You can put security officers at the door but there is still just once entrance to both the court and the Campaspe Shire offices, there is no private consulting rooms for lawyers and their clients and family violence victims still have to sit in the same waiting space as the accused — it is a recipe for disaster.

‘‘The Premier’s promises are hollow unless these issues are fixed in Echuca.’’

Court Services Victoria chief executive David Ware said it was in the process of rolling out better security at regional courts and tribunals across the state.

‘‘The upgrades will include the introduction of entry screening and purpose-trained CSOs at the Echuca Magistrates Court on all sitting days.

‘‘The introduction of new security equipment and CSOs in Echuca will improve the safety and security of court users.’’

The CSOs have a range of powers approved by legislation, and will perform the roles of entry screening and roving security patrols.

‘‘CSV is working closely with G4S Integrated Services, the provider of security staff, on the rollout.’’

THE upgrade was the first step in making the court house safer.

The Victorian Government provided $1.1 million for safety upgrades at the court in the 2016-17 State Budget which is earmarked to deliver on key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, including providing separate court access, safe waiting rooms and safe interview rooms, and court security officers to provide roving patrols and escort services for vulnerable people.

‘‘CSV committed to, and funded, comprehensive precinct planning and has been working closely with the Shire of Campaspe to ensure upgrades to the Echuca Magistrates Court meet the needs of the local community,’’ Mr Ware said.

‘‘CSV provided a proposal to the Shire of Campaspe in May this year that substantially addressed the safety and security concerns.

‘‘Currently CSV and the shire are giving detailed consideration to these plans and potential staging options.’’

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