During the course of the year the CLSA committee has been working with HMCtS to improve ease of access to our courts in England & Wales. Whilst we recognise the need for security at the Courts, we believe professional court user who usually frequent the same courts regularly should be afforded some flexibility as is often the case for example, with police officers.
HM Courts Service have today announced a ‘proof of concept’ for a Professional Court User entry scheme which will run for 12 weeks. The Scheme will allow barristers and solicitors to have improved access to Courts in 5 in pilot courts: Brighton Magistrates’ Court; Maidstone Combined Court; Southwark Crown Court; Tameside Magistrates’ Court; and Wood Green Crown Court. These Courts will operate a ‘Professional Access Queue’, but in order to be eligible users will have to sign up to the Conditions of Entry and Court Arrangements as well as register at the courts using this form
In addition to the above scheme, CLSA members who have a valid CLSA ID card can exclusively enjoy expedited access to all courts (there will be some courts or occasions when a higher security level will be in place and the scheme will not operate at those times). They will need to show their CLSA ID to security staff at their registered courts.
With both the pilot and national CLSA scheme users will have to register at the Courts they are most likely to attend. We hope in due course that this limitation can be removed, but in the meantime we have been asked by the HMCtS to urge members and non-members to only apply at courts they are likely to use to allow the scheme to be manageable.
CLSA members who do not have an up to date ID Card can download the application form here. Our intention is that for the membership year commencing October members who subscribe by Direct Debit will be entitled to a free ID card as part of their annual subscription fee. In addition to the Professional Entry Scheme at Courts, our ID card is recognised by the Legal Aid Agency as fulfilling the contractual requirement to carry authorised ID to allow access to police station custody suites. Non-members can apply for a non-member ID card for a fee here.
This is a pilot to test the Court entrances and arrangements. If successful the intention is to roll it out nationally and look to use technology to improve the system, possibly through the use of card readers or similar. In the meantime, the scheme may not work flawlessly but we would ask members and non-members alike to remain patient with staff who may not be familiar with the new arrangements, and to report any issues to us at email@example.com.
Full details of the scheme can be found here