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Policy position

Court safety

Victorian courts require urgent upgrading to ensure victims of crime feel safe to participate in the justice process

Victims of crime have told the Victims of Crime Commissioner (VOCC) that safety in court remains a significant concern and is impacting their ability to safely participate in the justice process.  

Victims have raised concerns with the lack of safe and separate seating options in common areas such as entries/exits, hallways and foyers. Lack of safe, separate spaces means victims often have no option but to sit near the perpetrator or the perpetrator’s family and friends. Other victims have been exposed to incidents of fighting and aggression in public areas.  

Lack of appropriate and safe court infrastructure has been raised in numerous Victorian reviews and inquiries for many years. Victorian courts are not fit for purpose and do not meet the needs of all court users, including victims of crime.  

The VOCC recommends that the Victorian Government establish minimum standards for safety and accessibility in Victorian courts. These standards should be publicly available, and all courts should be independently audited against these minimum standards. 

The VOCC also recommends that the Victorian Government develop a multi-year infrastructure plan to upgrade court facilities to meet minimum safety and accessibility standards. 

At a bare minimum, victims require safe court entrances and exits, including for victims with accessibility needs. Victims also need safe, accessible waiting spaces and private rooms. There should be sufficient infrastructure in all courts to facilitate alternative arrangements such as remote witness rooms and protective screens shielding victims from the accused.

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