As the recognised representatives of prosecutors and managers in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the FDA has raised serious concerns with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) about its approach to reopening courts across England and Wales.
The union has received disturbing reports of HMCTS being unable or unwilling to share health and safety risk assessments at courts. We have also been informed that HMCTS is not allowing CPS staff, including trade union representatives, to conduct their own independent risk assessments of court buildings prior to them reopening.
The FDA has written to HMCTS Chief Executive Susan Acland-Hood, asking her to urgently address these issues and to ensure that HMCTS is providing local CPS managers and health and safety representatives with the tools they need to protect court users.
FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood said:
“The FDA has been working constructively with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on plans to reopen courts but it is extremely concerning that the owner of the courts estate, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), is routinely failing to ensure the safety of court users.
“We all understand the need to keep the wheels of justice turning and our members have been working hard throughout the pandemic to ensure this happens – but that cannot be at the expense of people’s safety.
“There are real concerns that in its desperation to deal with a backlog of cases, HMCTS is now rushing to reopen courts without appropriate safety measures in place. The FDA has been clear that if our members do not feel safe, they should leave the court and contact the union immediately.”