Concerns for court staff as Justice Ministry confirms work-from-home plan

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Collections officers, other court staff and members of the public may be put at unnecessary risk as the Ministry of Justice confirms specialist collections staff will now work from home.

Around 90 staff will lose their jobs as specialist collections counters at courts are closed.

Collections registry officers will process fines and reparations from home, while court staff will handle all in-person enquiries.

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says there are serious security concerns about these plans and the Ministry needs to address them.

"We want to hear more from the Ministry about how they’ll ensure the safety of Collections Registry Officers while they’re working from home.

"These specialist workers have access to highly sensitive information and we’re not convinced enough has been done to guarantee their safety, or to safeguard the public’s data.

"The amount of debt collected has already decreased from $224.5 million in 2013 to $211.8 million in 2015, which the Ministry says is due to falling staff numbers.

"It’s hard to see how getting rid of nearly half of the Collections Unit’s staff will help this."

Ms Polaczuk says there will also be flow-on effects for people working at courts.

"There are many people who don’t want to pay fines online, and they’ll continue to turn up at court.

"This will increase waiting times, customer frustration and aggravation will mount, and already-stressed staff could be pushed to breaking point.

"The Ministry says the Collections Unit ‘enhances the credibility of fines as a sentencing option’ and ‘increases public regard for the administration of justice’.

"We can’t see how these changes will do anything other than erode those things - our members, and the public, need a proper explanation."