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Over 16,500 remand court appearances were held via audio visual links (AVL) connecting courts and prisons in the year to May 2017, says Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams.

This is up from around 13,000 remand court appearances held via AVL the year before, an increase of about 27 per cent.

Ms Adams says each appearance represents a prisoner who has not been escorted to court, placed in a holding cell, and then returned to prison.

“AVL not only frees up more time for other court business, it also improves public safety and reduces the potential opportunities for prisoners to escape or to introduce contraband,” says Ms Adams.

“The use of AVL supports the Government’s goals of increasing efficiency in the justice sector, modernising the court system and improving victims’ experiences of the courts.

“There are now 21 courts hooked up to the AVL network, linked to 15 prisons throughout New Zealand. In addition to these fully-serviced links, most district and higher courts have access to AVL-enabling equipment that can connect them to prisons or other custodial facilities, and allow victims or witnesses to give evidence remotely.”

AVL is enabled by the Courts (Remote Participation) Act passed by Parliament in 2010. The Government has invested over $38 million in the rollout of AVL to prisons and courts across New Zealand.

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