Police firearms in court - Public Service Association

Police firearms in court

Department of Justice re Firearms into courts – members bulletin August 2015 (PDF version)

The NSW Department of Justice has announced that from Monday 10 August 2015, police will be able to wear their firearms in court, under a new protocol signed by the NSW Sheriff and NSW Police Commissioner.

The protocol was developed in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Magistrate of the Local Court.

However, PSA members were not consulted by the Department or the NSW Government. Consultation with PSA members should have occurred in accordance with the provisions of the ‘Consultative Framework (Policy and Guidelines) July 1997’.

Police were previously not permitted to bring their firearms into court unless they sought and gained special permission from the judiciary or in courthouses where no security points were installed.

The new protocol outlines the circumstances in which police will be allowed to carry their Firearms as a standing arrangement including:

  • when police are giving evidence
  • when briefing prosecutors at court
  • when police are within court complexes.

The PSA was aware the NSW Police Association was seeking approval for police to wear firearms in court and so member feedback was sought.

On 12 May 2015, the PSA General Secretary, Anne Gardiner and Manager Strategic Industrial and Bargaining, James Shaw met with Scott Weber, the President of the NSW Police Association to discuss the matter.

Mr Weber agreed with the PSA position that issues relating to Court security are in part, due to a lack of resources. Mr Weber said that he supported the PSA and PSA members in our efforts to increase resources in the Courts and he assured the PSA that the Police Association was not attempting to have their members perform any of the work being undertaken by Sheriff’s Officers.

Members’ concerns

PSA Members have several concerns about the new protocol including:

  • the NSW Sheriff has responsibility for enforcing court security and it is now unclear, how the new protocol will affect the work performed by Sheriff’s Officers
  • the potential reduction of Sheriff’s Officers roles in the courts, resulting in an unsafe court environment.

Dispute notice

Due to the lack of consultation and the resulting concerns of members, your union, the PSA, filed an urgent dispute notice with the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW. The matter was heard on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 11am, before his Honour Justice Walton, President.

The PSA attended the Compulsory Conference before Justice Walton. The Department was represented.

Justice Walton heard the concerns of the PSA relating to the lack of consultation and made the following Orders:

  • Direct the parties to confer in accordance with the ‘Consultative Arrangement – Policy and Guidelines – 1997’;
  • Listed the matter for further report back on Thursday 13 August 2015.

On that afternoon, the PSA then attended a consultative meeting with the Department and the parties mapped out a timetable for urgent ongoing discussions including the creation of a Consultative Working Group comprising representatives from the Department, your union and WHS representatives.

A further report back before Justice Walton was held on Thursday 13 August 2015.

The PSA attended along with the Acting General Secretary, Steve Turner and the Manager of Strategic Industrial and Bargaining, James Shaw.

The Department was represented by the Assistant Director General of Justice Policy and Legal Services, Michael Talbot.

The Police Association was also represented.

The parties provided an update regarding the dispute.

Significantly, the Police Association made a commitment to support the role of the Sheriffs.

Justice Walton then convened a private conference for a confidential discussion of the issues with the parties.

Justice Walton then reconvened the report back and relisted the proceedings for a further report back on Tuesday 22 September 2015.

If you have further concerns about this matter, please call the Members Support Centre (MSC) on 1300 772 679 or send an email to

What can you do?

  • Give a copy of this bulletin to your colleagues
  • Print this bulletin and put it on your notice board
  • Ask a colleague to join the PSA
  • Become a contact in your area
  • Ask a colleague to attend the next PSA meeting with you

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