Ageing court house a public risk: lawyer

Ian Pugh is campaigning for Colac to have a new police station and court house.

Ian Pugh is campaigning for Colac to have a new police station and court house.

A LAWYER says ice-affected people at Colac’s outdated police station and court could be a security threat to the public, police, lawyers and judiciary.

Colac district lawyer Ian Pugh, who has been campaigning for a new police station and courthouse in Colac, said security was a concern at the ageing station and courthouse, particularly when authorities were dealing with ice-affected offenders.

Mr Pugh said the Colac Magistrate’s Court building also failed to provide adequate space to separate people involved with family violence orders.

Colac Police Station

Colac Police Station

He said legal representatives, police and the public faced other concerns at Colac’s court and police station.

The lawyer, who has launched a Colac Police Station and Court Complex Action Group, has called on the Law Institute of Victoria to join the community campaign for improved police and court facilities for Colac.

Mr Pugh said he urged the law institute to raise his concerns about justice facilities at state level.

“We need a new Colac Police Station and court complex as the current facilities have passed their use by date,” he said.

Mr Pugh said lawyers’ access to their clients in the Colac police cells raised occupational health and safety and privacy issues.

“Lawyers have to either see their clients outside the cells in a forecourt or actually in the cells,” he said.

“It is often difficult to have confidential discussions with police because of the lack of office space within the police station.

“The cells are of an extremely low standard and are unlikely to meet international standards for the keeping of prisoners.

“Prisoners often had to be transported to the Geelong police cells which is a waste of police resources and forces local lawyers to go and see their clients in Geelong and conduct bail applications in Geelong if these applications cannot be heard in Colac.”

Mr Pugh said security was an issue at the courthouse because police had to take the accused through public areas to the dock in the court where prisoners were held when appearing before a magistrate.

“There is not adequate space for the separation of parties involved with family violence orders within the court area,” he said.

“The impact of ice-affected people at both the police station and court threatens security for the public, police, lawyers and judiciary.

“A new courthouse and police station would enable Colac court to sit on more days and provide improved access to justice for Colac and the surrounding area.”

Mr Pugh said the lobby group would continue pressuring the State Government ministers and Opposition spokespeople.

LIV chief Nerida Wallace said the institute would raise the issue with Court Services Victoria, the independent authority which allocated court resources.

Ms Wallace said the institute would continue to advocate for improved justice facilities for country areas including Colac.

LIV president Katie Miller said better facilities were “paramount” to meet the challenges of a reported increase in family violence.

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