By James Simons-
Solicitors will bypass security at a number of courts, beginning from next month, the British government confirmed today. A 12-week pilot scheme, allowing accredited legal professionals to have direct entrance to courts is to be piloted in five courts. Lawyers who regularly use those courts can register from today.
The ‘professional entry scheme’ is designed to ease queues at court buildings and allow quicker access for legal professionals who come to court regularly.
The courts in which the pilot scheme is to be used are: Brighton Magistrates’ Court, Maidstone Combined Court; Southwark Crown Court, Tameside Magistrates’ Court and Wood Green Crown Court in London. Once successful, the scheme will be extended nationally. Security checks are required in all courts, but there has often been the valid question of whether solicitors and barristers should be subjected to the random searches that other members of the public have to face. The problem is that because of the high importance and delicacy of the courts, it is in some sense best to avoid taking chances. A solicitor today could be a terrorist tomorrow, but it real and practical terms, a radical change like this will not occur in a court.
The move to make exception for solicitors and barristers when it comes to security checks is good, but it also raises the question as to whether impostas could potentially pose as solicitors to bypass the security system in courts before executing the real danger they may have in mind.
.Under the arrangements, barristers will identify themselves with a Bar Council app while Law Society members will show an approved photo ID.Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: ‘Easier access will benefit our members and we welcome this sensible initiative. We have spoken to HMCTS officials about the delays practitioners can face in clearing security and we hope the pilot will pave the way for a permanent system of easier access.’