The Ministry of Justice has advised that as a result of the national security threat level being increased to high, it has raised its security settings. Where screening is available at courts, lawyers will now be screened.
The ministry says the change in settings has resulted in some changes to court building security being made, effective from 27 March 2019.
The changes are:
- All people entering court buildings will be screened (where screening is available). The only exceptions to this are the judiciary, Ministry of Justice staff, Police and Corrections staff. This means lawyers will be screened.
- Police will routinely carry firearms when on duty. The Police will continue to follow current practice regarding applications to have weapons in court.
- Restrictions are being implemented in regard to which doors may be used by staff and other users of the court. For example, where there are two entrances to a court building, that may be reduced to one depending on security staff availability.
- Private security guards will be allocated to ungated ministry carparks.
The ministry says these settings will be revised weekly and it will advise of any changes accordingly.
The New Zealand Law Society says it is in close contact with the ministry and lawyers will appreciate that New Zealand is in new territory as far as daily security goes. It reminds members of the legal profession that the heightened security must be taken very seriously with patience and understanding of the measures which security staff now need to follow.