Former Tasmania Police Commander welcomes decision to remove officers from court

Bass Liberal MHA Sarah Courtney with Tasmania Police Northern Commander Brett Smith outside the Launceston Supreme Court. Picture: Phillip Biggs
Bass Liberal MHA Sarah Courtney with Tasmania Police Northern Commander Brett Smith outside the Launceston Supreme Court. Picture: Phillip Biggs

The man who started arguing for police to be removed from courts more than 17 years ago says he is “over the moon” the issue will finally be resolved in Launceston.

Former police commander Ivan Dean said he first pushed for officers to be taken out of court and put back on the frontline in 1999.

On Saturday, Corrections Minister Elise Archer announced six new correctional officers would be employed to replace police who are currently on guard duty every day in the Launceston Supreme Court.

Mr Dean, currently an independent MLC, said the state government “should have gotten onto it earlier” but it was still great news.

Former Tasmania Police Commander and current MLC Ivan Dean.

Former Tasmania Police Commander and current MLC Ivan Dean.

“I accept there are times when police need to be in the Supreme Court, when there are particularly violent offenders,” he said.

“But generally it was just absolute nonsense that we have had sworn police officers just sitting in the court when they should have been out there protecting the community, it was just a disgrace.”

The move has also been welcomed by opposition corrections spokeswoman Lara Giddings, but she questioned why it had taken the government “so long to act and why aren't police being removed from court in the North-West”.

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Mr Dean said he was shocked by Ms Giddings’ comments.

“The audacity of them to criticise … for goodness sake they had 16 years but they sat back and did nothing,” he said.

He did agree, however, that there needed to be more details on the plan for the North-West.

“I was a commander and an inspector on the North-West for a long time and they do have issues that are unique to them,” he said.

“I accept that it is different and they have got more work to do but they need to work on it and not just shelve it and hope the problem might blow over.

“It is good news that they are employing a project officer, but when will this happen?”

It is understood the project officer position will be advertised “as soon as possible”.

“The department will advertise the position with the ultimate aim of getting police officers on the North- West out of court and back onto the streets,” Ms Archer said.

It is expected to cost about $789,000 to replace Launceston Supreme Court police with correctional officers.