Full body scanners set to be installed at Parliament after security concerns

Source: 1News

Security at Parliament is to be increased with full body scanners set to greet visitors, after windows were left smashed after an alleged axe attack this week.

Shattered glass scattered the entrance to Parliament on Wednesday, with security expert Paul Buchanan saying at the time that security there was designed for a “bygone era”.

Yesterday, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said he supported the introduction of body scanners to Parliament.

“The New Zealand Parliament is one of the most open and accessible in the world and that's actually something we should be very proud of,” he said.

“But that does mean that we need to have good security in place, so it means that security screening is vitally important.”

The Christchurch terrorist attack prompted Parliament to review security, with 33 recommendations made.

Speaker Trevor Mallard, who is in charge of the buildings, said Parliament “didn’t necessarily have the skill sets that we've needed, a lot of equipment that we should have had that we didn’t have”.

The review has been kept private for safety reasons but whether security guards should have detainment powers is an area of discussion.

The National Party now supports the implementation of full body scanners, which was one of 33 recommendations in the review, after initially opposing it.

“I think it’s regrettable that Chris Hipkins is politicising this process a little bit,” National MP Chris Bishop said.

“I think there were legitimate concerns around the Parliamentary complex, whether or not full body scanners would create a problem for access to Parliament for people, but I think it’s the right step forward and the Speaker has made that determination and the National Party supports it.”

Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said the recommendations would be put in place over the next several years.

It comes after it was revealed this morning that 23 security staff were made redundant due to “structural changes to the roles within the security team”.

Gonzalez-Montero said the number of frontline security staff would be increasing as a result of the security review.

Mallard said the addition of a full body scanner would “make Parliament safer for staff and for visitors”.

“As a result of this review and the changes that being implemented, it’s a much safer place than it was two years ago.”

Security expects that spoke to 1 NEWS had mixed views on the use of full body scanning at Parliament.

Buchanan said it was a cost-effective measure that could save lives.

However two other experts said it was important that full body scanners were not implemented as a knee-jerk reaction, with issues such as disability access and social implications needing to be taken into account.