Work starts on courthouse audio-visual link

19:27, May 05 2014
Invercargill District Court construction
NAILED IT: Phoenix Services carpenter Chris Magennity works on the new counsel lawyer instruction suite at the Invercargill District Court.

Work has begun at the Invercargill courthouse to allow prisoners to appear in court remotely.

The audio-visual link (AVL) network connecting courts and prisons is part of a $27.8 million programme to link 18 courts and 13 prisons nationwide by 2015.

A Justice Ministry spokesman said installation started at the Invercargill courthouse last month.

The work into the main courtroom would involve the installation of about 4 kilometres of cabling along with the necessary cameras, microphones and screens. It also involved the creation of a new instruction room where lawyers could speak to defendants in private, he said.

The joint initiative between the Corrections Department and the Ministry of Justice is aimed at enhancing safety and security.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said the risks - to the public, Corrections and court staff - associated with transporting inmates outside prisons would be completely removed along with the risk of escape. It also meant police and Corrections officers did not have to spend time planning, carrying out or funding escort duties from prison to court and back again and removed the risk of contraband being smuggled into prisons, she said.

Judges would continue to have the discretion to require prisoners to appear in court.

The Corrections Department was now waiting on building consent for the AVL suite at Invercargill Prison.

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The Southland Times