Towards the end of last year HMCTS launched a national duty box work project. The project aims to redesign, standardise and digitalise Magistrates’ Court criminal duty box work.
PCS is broadly supportive of the project as it seeks to recognise the vital and largely unacknowledged contribution made by Legal Advisers in exercising their delegated powers outside of the court room, and to value their professional ability as lawyers to make reasoned judicial decisions that are more than capable of standing up to the scrutiny of the High Court.
Flexible operating hours pilots have been launched in Brentford County Court and Manchester Civil Justice Centre (CJC)
On 10 May HMCTS announced its response to the consultation it launched in January 2018 regarding the principles that would inform future court closure proposals. For reasons beyond the control of PCS, the timing of this announcement meant we were unable to provide a response to the announcement sooner.
Since HMCTS first raised the concept of computer use in the court room, long before Libra, DMU, Crest and Exhibit were introduced, PCS has raised and continues to raise concerns regarding HMCTS meeting its obligations in relation to ensuring our members can work safely in courtrooms.
The area in court rooms where legal advisers, court associates and court clerks sit was designed to be a bench rather than a work station. It was also designed well before the introduction of video/virtual hearings. The court room environment brings significant risks that do not exist in the office environment, all of which must be considered and addressed in the risk assessment process.
PCS welcomes the announcement on Monday 1 April that HMP Birmingham will be returned to the public sector.