Courts need urgent risk assessments to deal with coronavirus threat
The FDA union, which represents prosecutors in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), has welcomed the decision to restrict physical court hearings to a limited number of existing cases in the Crown Court and only the most urgent cases in the Magistrates’ Court. However, urgent risk assessments are now needed to ensure the safety of those attending courts.
FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood said: “We have been calling for these measures to be put in place since last week and we welcome the movement from HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) support for it.
“However, we have become increasingly concerned about reports from our members of insanitary conditions and poor facilities in courts in recent weeks. We’ve had members in tears about being asked to go into courts where staff are crammed in together with no access to soap or hand sanitiser.
“We are calling on HMCTS to carry out urgent risk assessments, and we are working directly with the CPS to agree the best way to ensure the safety of staff. In the meantime, we are advising members, in line with CPS guidance, to raise any issues with the judge or magistrate in the first instance and if the court is still unsafe then they should leave and contact the union.”