The Ministry of Social Development may have to pay millions to make Work and Income offices safer for staff.

It follows a District Court judgment relating to a prosecution taken against the Ministry by Worksafe New Zealand, over the fatal shootings at its Ashburton Work and Income office two years ago.

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According to the judgment, client initiated violence at the office was reasonably predictable and extra steps could have been made to make the office safer.


According to the ruling, MSD has estimated it could cost between $13 million and $27m dollars to upgrade its offices nationwide.

In her ruling, Judge Jan-Marie Doogue says, given the severity of potential harm, potential risk, and MSD's large operating budget, she's satisfied the cost would not be disproportionate.

Ashburton Mayor Angus Mckay said it was reassuring to be told a barrier wouldn't have prevented the WINZ shootings.

He said the balance between safety and allowing people to have a comfortable conversation could be difficult to strike.