According to NSW Justice “the use of technology in the local court is allowing greater flexibility in accessing justice and providing safety for court users”.
“The Audio Visual Link facility (AVL) is a form of video conferencing using cameras and television screens, that allows two-way communication to a remote location,” NSW Justice states.
“AVL in local courts is primarily used to conduct bail hearings for offenders in a goal, however, is also used to take evidence from witnesses not able to attend the location, such as for witnesses who are interstate or overseas.
“Using AVL for bail hearings reduces unnecessary transportation of prisoners to and from court, especially to regional locations and increases the security for court users”.
But not if you’re at the Cowra Local Court.
Cowra isn’t on the list of more than 200 court rooms in more than 60 locations throughout the state saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
It wasn’t on the list of court houses the State Government announced last year would be fitted with high definition AVL as part of a technology rollout across the state.
Instead Cowra remains blacked out from technology which would make a huge difference to the way proceedings are conducted.
The technology, with an estimated cost of $160,000, would mean prisoners would no longer need to be transported from Lithgow, Bathurst, Junee or even Sydney for court matters that may only take a couple of minutes.
The State Government itself claims the upgrade to AVL would “improve safety, the efficiency of hearings and provide better facilities for vulnerable witnesses”.
It would mean many detainees could appear from prison and evidence could be taken from interstate and overseas witnesses.
AVL, the Government adds, would reduce the risk of escapes, cut delays caused by waiting for prisoners to physically arrive at court and free up police to do other frontline work.
Despite all of the obvious advantages Cowra remains without AVL.
Instead our police travel hundreds of kilometres to transport prisoners and then walk them through relatives and the public through a side door to attend court.
The current system is inefficient, a waste of time and money and not acceptable at such a busy court house.