Jobs set to go in courts shake-up

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012

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Four top Taranaki court managers look set to lose their jobs in a shake-up of New Zealand's district courts.

The Corrections Department declined to confirm the potential cutbacks this week, but sources said four court managers in New Plymouth and Hawera would soon be made redundant.

They will be asked to reapply for the sole remaining management position. The Taranaki redundancies are part of a national restructuring of courts, where about 160 court management jobs will be slashed to about 70.

Other smaller courts, including Te Kuiti, are to close.

In October, Courts Minister Chester Borrows announced changes to the district court network as part of efforts to modernise court operations.

"With crime falling to record lows and the number of people coming to court decreasing, we are taking the opportunity to improve how the 63 district courts are administered and to modernise services so they are more in line with public expectations," Mr Borrows said.

"Crimes rates have fallen year after year and criminal summary cases have fallen almost 20 per cent since 2007-08.

"Our small courts are spending more and more of their time sitting empty and the Criminal Procedure Act, which comes into force next July, will remove another 31,000 court events each year.

"These changes are possible due to the success this Government has had in reducing crime rates, and will help us deliver the modern, customer-focused court services New Zealanders expect."

The Justice Ministry will be talking to stakeholders about how these changes would work.

The ministry will also consult with staff affected by the proposed changes. It is expected that any changes will take effect early next year.

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