Police carrying guns in NSW courts is 'lazy': lawyers
LAWYERS have warned allowing police officers to carry guns in NSW courts is a lazy and undermining solution to real security issues.
The changes came into effect on Monday after Police Minister Troy Grant announced them last week - while Australia remains on high terror alert.
"This is a commonsense approach at a time our nation faces a high terror alert and when we've seen police overseas become terror targets themselves," he said.
But NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham said the move could create more problems than it solves.
"If there are concerns regarding the security of our courts they should be directly confronted, rather than through a patchwork agreement that enables police officers to now carry their guns in courthouses," she said.
The new laws will allow police to carry weapons when giving evidence in court and, in district and local courts, to brief prosecutors.
"These ad hoc arrangements have the potential to cause confusion and harm in the event of a security incident in one of our courts.
"Traditionally the sheriff has been responsible for all court security and under the protocol will continue to have overall responsibility in this regard.
"However, that oversight is compromised by police officers carrying firearms in court and the potential for them to respond independently to possible incidents raises concerns for the safety of judicial officers and parties.
"The current protocol is a quick fix which ironically may compromise, rather than enhance, the safety of the judiciary and court users."