A defendant escaped custody and was on the run for nearly a week, while a police officer was allegedly spat at by a prisoner in two separate incidents reported in Tasmanian courts.
Security processes at the state's magistrates courts remain in shambles, despite multiple promises by both the state government and the Justice Department to improve conditions.
In the past week alone, a female officer who was covering a security contractor shift due to understaffing within the Justice Department was allegedly assaulted by a prisoner while escorting her to the Launceston Magistrates Court on Monday.
The defendant allegedly spat in the officer's face, and has since been charged with police assault.
The second incident unfolded down South last Friday, when a defendant who was supposed to be remanded in custody managed to get past Hobart Magistrates Court security contractors, and flee the building.
It was understood he was on the run until Wednesday when he was arrested by police.
The issue of court security had been raised for decades in Tasmania, with arguments not only from police and corrections unions, but several Improvement Notices issued by the state's WorkSafe Regulator.
The Justice Department has yet to complete the long list of changes required by WorkSafe Tasmania, which included serious safety risks within 10 of the state's magistrates court.
And those safety issues not only impacted court staff, and members of the public, but also police, who were still being required to escort prisoners.
Police were formally removed from the Launceston Supreme Court in 2018, after a decades-long public battle between the state government, and the state's police union, as well as a successful campaign by The Examiner.
But to date, police remain on duty in the Burnie Supreme Court complex, which houses the North-West's magistrates court, and officers recently began picking up duties at the Launceston Magistrates Court due to staffing issues.
The deadline for the government promise to formally remove police from the North-West, which was July 1, has now also passed.
Yet no change has been made.
Questions were put to Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Corrections Elise Archer in Question Time on Thursday, and she argued the election commitment was to deliver the promise within 100 days of forming government.
Responding to the issue of police in the Burnie courts, Ms Archer said the plan remained to use retired police and retired court operations officers to manage security work in court, while correctional officers would undertake prisoner transport duties.
"The Department of Justice has met with the Retired Police Association and an expression of interest has been sent to RPAT members advising them of the opportunity to work as a court operations security officer," she said.
"Prisoner escorts will be the responsibility of the Tasmania Prison Service during the court's operating hours, however, as was always the plan, police will retain responsibility for transporting prisoners remanded during out of hours courts through to Launceston."
As for the issues raised by WorkSafe Tasmania, Ms Archer said the Magistrates Court was "currently waiting for further advice".
But Police Association of Tasmania president Colin Riley said enough was enough, and action needed to be taken now.
"The more we continue to backstop services of other agencies, the less traffic policing, criminal investigations, public order and emergency management we are doing," he said.
"Sadly, as our members try to do it all, we will continue to damage them. Currently, 8.3 per cent of police officers are on open workers compensation claims and this will only increase unless we draw a line and get other agencies to do their core tasks, and let us focus on ours."
Ms Archer defended the decision to again use police in the Launceston Magistrates Court, citing an industry-wide shortage of security officers.
"To permit the Launceston Magistrates Court to operate safely the court recently approached Tasmania Police with a request to assist, if necessary, by bringing arrested persons into court and supervising them in the dock," she said.
"This is a short-term measure only to ensure that the courts continue to operate safely for staff, prisoners, and the general public, and we make no apology for this.
"Urgent consideration is being given to other potential, longer-term options to address these issues when they arise."
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