Security guards are continuing to work in unsafe conditions in Tasmanian courts, a union has claimed, while the Police Association is demanding answers as to why a safety improvement notice was withdrawn.
WorkSafe Tasmania issued the improvement notice in February to the Department of Justice, but it was withdrawn due to "deficiencies" without a court appeal, angering the Police Association of Tasmania which is demanding to know why.
The association attempted to obtain all records of communication on the issue between the department and the work health and safety regulator through Right to Information, but a search of WorkSafe records was unable to find any documentation.
Police Association of Tasmania president Colin Riley said it was concerning that the state's most senior work health and safety official deemed there to be safety issues, but this appeared to have been overruled by the department.
"The issue for me is that if the regulator thought it necessary to seek an improvement notice, and then someone decides it's 'deficient', why wouldn't they simply rectify the deficiencies and reissue the improvement notice?" he said.
"How can it be withdrawn without consultation with key stakeholders who have been calling for improvements for two decades?
"This is not just about safety for police. It's about witnesses, it's about victims, other defendants and court security staff."
Once the notice was issued to the secretary of the Department of Justice, the department had the option of an appeal in the courts within 28 days. But the notice was not withdrawn until July - five months after it was issued.
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Jannette Armstrong - spokesperson for United Workers Union Tasmania, which represents security and correctional staff - said safety issues within the courts were obvious, and had been raised for many years.
She said security guards were being required to guard inmates for long periods without handcuffs, which was above their pay grade in the award, while a lack of bag screening technology - commonplace at courts in other states - was putting the safety of staff and court attendees at risk.
"We also have concerns about the level of training the guards get, or don't get," Ms Armstrong said.
"They're being required to do high level work which is not covered by the security award.
"I also can't understand how the protocols change when inmates are in the custody of correctional officers, but when they get to court and are transferred to security staff, they're uncuffed and walked into a public building."
Mr Riley agreed, and said there had been instances of safety breaches in courts in recent years.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said WorkSafe had started an investigation and inspections were occurring at magistrates courts across the state.