Court link glitches 'not fatal'

Three cases have had to be rescheduled as a result of a technical glitch with the new audiovisual link technology at the Nelson Courthouse.

The glitch comes after Corrections Minister Anne Tolley and Courts Minister Chester Borrows welcomed the addition of the Nelson, Whangarei and Hutt Valley courts to the audiovisual link (AVL) network connecting courts and prisons last week.

Three scheduled Nelson cases had to be postponed until tomorrow because of the fault that occurred last Friday, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.

"While the system had been successfully used for five one-off cases, [the day's] cases were the first scheduled hearings," he said.

Contractors fixed the problem late yesterday. Courts Minister Chester Borrows said the glitches were certainly not an indication of how well the system was working altogether.

"We are not talking about fatal flaws here.

"When we are rolling out quite a sophisticated system around the country it is not unusual to get the odd fault.

"We anticipate expanding the project, not contracting it, if anything."

He said the system's benefits vastly outweighed any negative aspects.

The new system allowed prisoners at connected facilities to make court appearances elsewhere via the link, as opposed to travelling to a destination for short periods.

There were major savings for taxpayers and a reduced risk for prison officers.

"Prisoners might have to sit next to people they would not otherwise want to sit next to for a whole day just for what could be a 10-minute hearing."

AVL, linking 18 courts and 13 prisons across the country by 2015, is part of a $27.8 million upgrade programme.

The Nelson Mail