The statement calling for action has been signed by the Criminal Bar Association, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, Solicitors’ Association of Higher Courts Advocates, Public and Commercial Services Union, FDA (a union representing Crown Prosecution Service prosecutors), National Association of Probation Officers and Family Courts, and Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers.
The bodies call for an immediate review of safety arrangements across the court estate amid growing concerns that the buildings are not, as HMCTS has repeatedly claimed, ‘Covid secure’.
‘Confirmation of over 600 positive cases amongst professional court users since 24 November across the HMCTS estate, evidences the alarming extent of the crisis emerging in the justice sector. If HMCTS continue to fail to take remedial action to ensure that transmission levels are significantly reduced and professional, lay and public court users remain safe then further action will be necessary.’
HMCTS is told to quickly introduce lateral flow testing at every court and for every prisoner brought to court to ensure all court users test negative for the coronavirus before they enter the building.
‘Despite HMCTS continuing to give assurances that they are implementing all available measures the evidence and repeated concerns raised demonstrate that these measures are inadequate. The recurrent claims that courts and tribunals are safe and covid-19 secure bear no resemblance to the reality of the conditions in most buildings across the estate,’ the statement says.