Part of prison becomes makeshift courtroom

9:46 am on 4 March 2011

Part of Christchurch Men's Prison is being used as a makeshift courtroom, because the regular court buildings downtown are off-limits, being within the central-city cordon.

Day-to-day judicial matters are being heard at the Christchurch police station, the Rangiora District Court and Paparua prison.

The Law Society says anyone who is in custody, or is awaiting sentencing or a trial, must be given priority.

The Chief District Court Judge, Russell Johnson, concedes the downtown site will not be back in use for several months.

The Law Society's Canterbury-Westland branch president, Allister Davis, who has just spent the week on court duty in the police station's line-up room, predicts other unconventional courtrooms to come.

Victim Support says it's crucial the victims of crime are kept informed about the reshuffling.

Chief executive Tony Paine says Victim Support usually meets the travel and accommodation costs of those it helps, so the transfer of court sittings to other towns need not hit victims in the pocket.