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Courts less safe under Labour

Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman

4 February 2008

Courts less safe under Labour

Reporters note: court-by-court breakdowns attached

The Labour Government is allowing the courts to become less and less secure places, says National Party Associate Justice spokeswoman Kate Wilkinson.

She is releasing figures which show:
* 661 security incidents at courts in 2007, compared to 484 in 2006, an increase of 36.5%.

* 208 of the incidents in 2007 were classified as ‘serious’, up 18% from 2006, and up from just 87 in 2003, an increase of 139%.

* The biggest regional rise was in Southern Region, up 111% from 2006 to 131, with serious incidents up 141% to 41.

* Courts with the biggest overall increase were Wellington DC (from 4 to 42), Tauranga (5 to 20), Lower Hutt (17 to 35), Christchurch (36 to 84) and Invercargill (6 to 22). Christchurch (9 to 30) and Wellington DC (2 to 12) showed the biggest increase in serious incidents.

“These figures are of great concern, and fly in the face of Labour’s claims that it places a ‘high priority’ on court security.

“In 2006, the Minister told Parliament they took court security ‘very seriously’, but since then the number of incidents has actually increased.

“This is not good enough. We cannot have witnesses and court staff feeling unsafe as they go about their business.

“This strikes at the very heart of our justice system – the freedom of people to be able to take court action and give evidence without intimidation or fear of retribution.

“After incidents of court officials and judges being assaulted and gang members taking photographs of jurors, Labour promised to review court security, but things have got worse.

“Our court system is under siege, with thousands of trials on hold, median waiting times nearing 300 days, and 10 stays of prosecution in the past year alone.

“Courts Minister Rick Barker should explain what he is doing to ensure these problems are addressed and that justice is served in a timely and safe manner.”

Attachments: answers to parliamentary questions 20645 and 20646


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