10 Nov 2017

Union questions security of new Christchurch court

7:37 pm on 10 November 2017

Security at the new Christchurch law courts is again being called in to question, despite the $300-million project opening only four weeks ago - late and over budget

The southwest corner of the precinct which is believed to house the youth court.

The southwest corner of the precinct which is believed to house the youth court. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Already the union representing court staff, the Public Service Association, had raised questions about a cafe in the building selling hot drinks it said could be thrown at staff and members of the public.

It also had concerns about an earlier plan to only put in metal detectors on the first floor and provide so-called soft security on the ground floor.

This was subsequently changed and an undertaking made to provide full security at both main ground floor entrances.

However on a recent visit, RNZ News found that only one entrance was manned by security guards with a metal detector and a bag scanner.

While the sliding doors at the other entrance had been set to only open for those exiting the building, we simply waited for somebody to leave and then walked inside while the doors were open, no security check required.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said at this stage the building was only open for cases involving the Coroners and Environment Courts and Disputes Tribunal Hearings.

In a statement it said the unmanned doors were only being used as a fire escape and people were being directed to enter the court through the other entrance.

It said at the moment the doors were being monitored by staff using CCTV cameras but would have a full complement of security guards, a scanner and a metal detector once criminal cases began in just over a week.