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Media Release: Department of Justice Should Improve Courtroom Safety – Not Make it Worse: says NSGEU President MacLean

Instead of putting in measures to make courtrooms and prisoner escorts safer, NSGEU has learned the Department of Justice is planning to make the situation riskier for Deputy Sheriffs and the public.

“Decision makers in the Department of Justice are making policy decisions that will impact our health and safety based on budgets rather than safety,” says Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union.

“NSGEU representatives met with the Department of Justice and learned that they are planning to reduce the number of Deputy Sheriffs used to escort prisoners,” says MacLean. “Deputy Sheriffs have never escorted prisoners on a ratio of one to one. It has always been a ratio of 2:1 and higher if there is increased risk. We don’t believe a one to one ratio is safe and it puts the public and the Deputy Sheriffs at an increased risk of violence.”

We have also found out that the Department is also not filling vacant Deputy Sheriff positions until at least April 2017,” says MacLean. “By not filling these vacant positions, it leaves our current members working short and puts them at an increased risk of violence in the workplace.” “We were told not filling vacancies was a budgetary decision.”

“We are very frustrated with this direction by the Department, especially after a Deputy Sheriff was injured last week at the Courthouse in Halifax,” says MacLean. “We are continuing to call for the implementation of the recommendations made in the Beaton Report.”

The Beaton Report was commissioned by the provincial Liberal government in July 2015 to assess violence in the workplace. There were a total of 51 recommendations designed to mitigate significant risks to both the public and Deputy Sheriffs in the Report.  Now, almost 18 months later, many of those 51 recommendations have still not been implemented.

 

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