MORE than six months after a serious security breach at Griffith courthouse, NSW Labor has raised concerns about a perceived lack of resources.
An incident saw a sex offender slit his own throat and wrists while his verdict was handed down after allegedly smuggling a sharp incident into the courtroom.
While questions were later raised with the NSW Attorney General and Sheriff’s office, little has been divulged in the months since.
NSW Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch said by keeping the information private, the extent of any problem becomes difficult to quantify.
“The real problem about that one of course, you can’t quantify the extent of the issue without having the answers,” he said.
“There are certain circumstances where you do need to keep information private for security purposes, but if you've got enough resources to maintain security, why wouldn’t you be upfront about that?”
Member for Murray and Nationals MP Austin Evans shared the community’s concerns about the February incident, and has “written to the Attorney General Mark Speakman to convey these concerns directly”.
“The courthouse is an important institution in our community and we need to ensure the safety of all who are using it,” Mr Evans said.
“I understand the Office of the Sherriff continually reviews security requirements in courts across the state, and that staffing at Griffith Court was increased in February 2018.”
In the wake of the incident, NSW Sheriff confirmed four new recruits had been installed at Riverina courts over two years.
“In the last two years, four new recruits have been deployed to Riverina courts. One of the additional officers is based at Griffith and supports other nearby courts five days a month,” they said.
State budget measures for this financial year announced $5.5 million had been set aside to continue a counter terrorism plan for NSW courthouses. This includes an extension in 40 temporary Sheriff’s officer’s and tactical training officers.
The latest round of questions about courthouse security have been “taken on notice” by NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman.
Mr Lynch also raised concern with the lack of security at a District Court level. Security measures – including metal detectors – are available in Wagga and Albury.
“There clearly needs to be a greater presence of security. District Courts are, by definition, dealing with more serious matters that could bring more extreme reactions with them,” he said.
“Courthouses are critical parts of infrastructure. It’s got to be a pretty fundamental business of government to make sure courthouses are safe.”