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Tuesday 24 March 2020

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.”

Notes for editors
1. The FDA is the union for senior managers and professionals in public service, representing more than 18,000 members at grades HEO and above. Membership includes senior civil servants, government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across the Government and the NHS.
2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".
3. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union. General Secretary Dave Penman tweets as @FDAGenSec.
4. For more information contact:
FDA Communications Officer Tommy Newell on 07738 729 145 or tommy@fda.org.uk
FDA Communications Officer Scott Dobson on 07727 869 640 or scott@fda.org.uk
FDA Head of Communications Kay Hender on 07980 700 747 or kay@fda.org.uk
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