Call for metal detectors in courts

Court Emergency: Ambulance officers respond to a stabbing inside the Coffs Harbour Court House on Thursday.
Court Emergency: Ambulance officers respond to a stabbing inside the Coffs Harbour Court House on Thursday. Rob Wright

AN act of self-harm where a woman stabbed herself in a Coffs Harbour court has prompted calls for metal detectors to be used in all New South Wales court-rooms.

The Law Society yesterday met in Sydney calling on the Department of Justice and Attorney General to increase courtroom screening.

Anne Beasley, who witnessed Thursday’s incident from the bench, raised the matter saying the same security measures used in the Family Court must be introduced in local and district courts.

“This needs to happen before people’s lives are put at risk,” Ms Beasley, the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour Law Society president said.

“There needs to be greater protection for court officers, legal practitioners and the general public – it could have been fatal,” she added.

Recalling what happened, Ms Beasley said the woman produced a kitchen knife from her handbag repeatedly stabbing herself in the abdomen.

She did so in front of a magistrate about 11am, after losing a small claims matter taken out against an insurance company.

A duress alarm was activated and court officers subdued the woman.

Yesterday she was due to undergo psychiatric assessment, still recovering in the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

The Department responded saying the annual security review of the courtroom would be brought forward.

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser seized on the issue, pressuring the State Government to fund a new courthouse and police station in the city.

“It proves that ignoring these upgrades not only puts members of the public at risk, but also courthouse staff and anyone working within the judicial system,” Mr Fraser said.

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