People using courts feel safe and disturbances are rare, a review of provincial court security released today, Nov. 21, shows. The review was overseen by an advisory committee that included a former director of security operations for Alberta, a staff sergeant with the RCMP security section and staff from the departments of Justice and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “Our court facilities see a tremendous amount of traffic every year, often in emotionally charged situations,” said Justice Minister Cecil Clarke. “This review has shown us that our courts are safe places for Nova Scotians, and will help us focus on areas to strengthen.” The goals of the review were to develop a baseline study of security, seek public input, determine if current measures are meeting security needs and identify areas to strengthen. Sheriffs do a daily risk assessment to determine that day’s security needs in each court setting and, if required, will add measures, such as metal detectors or additional sheriffs. Earlier this year, the province invested $70,000 to purchase 14 portable walk-through metal detectors that can be set up in courts, when required. Assessments at all 34 court facilities examined facility layout, signs and security procedures. Metal-detection equipment was also set up at each full-service justice centre. More than 13,000 people were screened entering court buildings and no objects were found in 98 per cent of screenings. In the two per cent of screenings where objects were found, they were everyday items, such as nail clippers, scissors, multi-tools or pocket knives. Court users, including members of the public, judges, police, court staff and lawyers, were surveyed, with 99 per cent of respondents saying they felt safe in court facilities and 100 per cent saying they saw at least one sheriff officer in the court facility. The report also identified areas to strengthen, including developing an on-going security assessment program, improving communication among sheriffs and court users, and safety and security awareness training for staff and justice professionals who use court facilities on a regular basis. The Department of Justice will also review the layout and structure of each court site for possible improvements. The full report can be viewed online at www.gov.ns.ca/just .
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