Western Australia now has one of the world’s most secure courthouses, designed specifically to deal with maximum security trials and the threat of terrorist attacks.
Premier Alan Carpenter today opened the new $190million District Court building which features extensive underground holding cells and the latest high-tech surveillance and security features.
Mr Carpenter said the facility would streamline the work of the court, leading to reduced wait times for trials and added security for staff, jurors, prisoners and court visitors.
“This impressive building has been designed to include the most advanced technology available,” he said.
“The courthouse represents the future for justice complexes.
“The security features will reassure people who attend court for work or to give evidence, especially during high-profile cases such as those involving outlaw motorcycle gangs and organised crime syndicates.”
The Premier said the court’s specialist high-security courtroom was one of the most secure in Australia and was among the most secure in the world.
“Glazed panels allow the accused, witnesses, members of the jury and the public gallery to be separated by bullet-proof glass,” he said.
“The specialised security system incorporates dozens of CCTV cameras monitored by security guards and all visitors must pass through airport-style screening which includes metal detectors and x-ray machines.
“Separate entrances, passages and remote witness facilities ensure victims of crime and vulnerable witnesses do not have to confront alleged perpetrators or their supporters.
“The new building - with 24 criminal and civil courtrooms - will meet the needs of the District Court for years to come and its design has already attracted keen interest from other States and Territories.”
The new courthouse provided:
· eight additional criminal courts (taking the total to 20) enabling the District Court to list more criminal cases and reduce court delays; and
· three additional video courts (taking the total to 14) allowing more witnesses and victims of crime to present their evidence remotely.
“WA’s District Court handles more than 6,000 criminal and civil matters each year and these new facilities will provide an improved working environment and continue to reduce trial delays,” Mr Carpenter said.
“This financial year, the average lead time for criminal trials in the District Court is expected to decrease almost 20 per cent, with a further 10 per cent reduction expected next year. People are now waiting an average of 40 weeks to go to trial compared to well over 50 weeks in 2006.”
The Premier said the new District Court building was developed under a public-private partnership with Western Liberty Group (WLG), a consortia with Brookfield Multiplex Constructions as the builder.
Under the agreement, WLG would maintain the building until 2032 and provide some key services including custodial, security and court transcription.
“This innovative partnership has resulted in an impressive District Court building delivered on budget and on time,” Mr Carpenter said.
The official opening ceremony took place before about 150 guests, including senior judges from local and interstate courts, as well as senior members of the legal profession.
The Chief Justice, the Hon. Wayne Martin; the Chief Judge of the District Court, Her Honour Antoinette Kennedy; and the Attorney General Jim McGinty joined the Premier at the opening.
The new District Court building is located opposite the Central Law Courts complex, which is planned for renovation, on the corner of Hay and Irwin Streets in central Perth.
The State Government has pledged $26billion in capital works projects over the next four years. Law and justice will be among those areas that continue to benefit from this investment, including the provision of new courts for Kalgoorlie and Carnarvon.
Premier's office - 9222 9475