HMCTS to retain some safety measures in England after 19 July, work with judiciary to increase capacity

Not all of the safety measures employed in HMCTS' buildings will go on 19 July when the England moves to step four of the Government’s roadmap and social distancing is no longer required, its acting chief executive has said.

In a blog Kevin Sadler said: “We will continue to work with Public Health organisations – as we always have – to ensure that we comply with health and safety standards and with the updated government guidance on working safely during coronavirus.

“We’ve already done much of this work in anticipation of Monday’s announcement, so will be finalising the details over the next few days.”

Sadler added that HMCTS would also be sharing its revised organisational risk assessment. “That document will form the basis on which we are working and will be kept under review in light of any additional guidance. Court and tribunal staff are already working on implementing these changes from Monday 19 July 2021. It also provides the basis on which local risk assessments are being carried out.”

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The acting chief executive said HMCTS, working with the judiciary, would be increasing capacity “safely to reduce outstanding cases, and as a result the number of people in our buildings will gradually increase”.

This is to happen alongside continued use of audio and video technology to enable remote attendance. “We will also continue to encourage the regular use of lateral flow tests.”

Sadler said that, from 19 July 2021, based on government and Public Health expert advice, courts and tribunals in England would only be required to have minimal social distancing measures in place, with some exceptions:

  • Face coverings will still be required in staff, public and communal parts of HMCTS’ buildings
  • Based on the particular assessed risk to detainees and those working and visiting custody suites – the areas will continue with all social distancing measures introduced during the pandemic such as touchpoint cleaning, locked down phones, reduced numbers and fluid-resistant surgical masks (FRSMs).
  • To reduce the risk of the virus spreading, HMCTS will continue using screens or barriers to separate people from each other who will come into close proximity with others they do not normally meet.

Every HMCTS building had been thoroughly assessed against Public Health guidance for ventilation and it would continue with its existing ventilation standards, Sadler said.

These details will be kept under review in the light of any further guidance from various safety and public health organisations, he added.

The acting chief executive said: “It is important that everyone using our courts and tribunals has confidence in these arrangements. I know that some of you will feel more comfortable than others as our working environment and people’s behaviour changes, but rest assured we will be managing the changes in a steady, careful way, with safety at the forefront of our minds at all times.

“Our role is to support the administration of justice safely – we have all the appropriate arrangements in place, and they are endorsed by Public Health agencies.”

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