The NSW Government will consider scrutinising telephone calls as part of a series of new measures to stop the abuse of the privileged relationship between lawyers and their clients in prisons.
Three lawyers are among 467 people who have been banned from NSW prisons after a cache of weapons, mobile phones and other contraband was seized during a recent blitz on jail visitors, The Sun-Herald reported today.
NSW Corrective Services has reported cases in which maximum security prisoners attempted to correspond with outside associates through their lawyers such as by diverting telephone calls.
Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said authorities were precluded from listening in on legal professional telephone calls.
“Clearly, that’s appropriate, except in circumstances where that legal professional privilege is being abused and we’re entitled, I believe, to subject those calls to a greater level of scrutiny, particularly in light of the information that has come to light,” Mr Hatzistergos said.
“Obviously there are issues with telecommunications, which straddle different levels of government so we have to be sure that whatever we do is legal.”
Some lawyers needed to have a clearer understanding about what they were entitled to do, Mr Hatzistergos said.
“Clearly we’ve got a situation here where some legal professionals think that legal professional privilege is kryptonite and we’re all repelled from doing anything to look into.
“Well that’s not the case.”
He said he was concerned about the potential for abuse.