The NDP says the government should be using its courthouse metal detectors all the time — not just on special occasions.

The devices are set up in the province's largest cities, but aren't used all the time — the only way to make sure judges, lawyers and the public are safe from people bringing in weapons, New Democrat leader Cam Broten says.

"We don't operate airport security when we feel like it," Broten said. "We make it a priority and we ensure that there are enough staff there to do the job and that's the approach that we should be taking in the courthouses."

Justice Minister Gord Wyant says it makes sense that the government uses metal detectors only when a "threat assessment" says it's necessary.

"That's done with local law enforcement and we rely on them for their advice," he said. "When they give us that advice that's when we operate them."

In the past, metal detectors have been used for some trials where gangs are involved.

Apart from cases where a threat has been identified, metal detectors are also regularly used in family court.