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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Direct entrance to courts and tribunals buildings

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil, Court and tribunal reform, Crime, Family, Tribunals, Working at HMCTS

[English] - [Cymraeg]

Our courts and tribunals buildings are the daily workplace for many: HMCTS employees; the judiciary; the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS); police, prison and probation colleagues; and legal practitioners. I’ve heard the concerns - raised by legal practitioners in particular - about queues to get in to our buildings, security checks that are perceived as unnecessary and the frustration when personal items are confiscated for security reasons. And I have promised that I will work with the profession to try to ease this situation.

I am pleased to say that this week we will begin the registration of legal practitioners at the courts they use regularly. The pilot will move into its second phase on 5 September, when the pilot courts will open up their ‘fast tracks’ to those registered. This scheme been developed in partnership with The Bar Council and The Law Society and will give quick entry to legal practitioners who have signed up to the scheme. If it is successful, we will expand the ‘Professional Entry Scheme’ to other courts, and could extend it to members of other professional bodies, like the CPS.

Tighter security for a reason

Shortly after I joined HMCTS (in 2016), there was a spate of serious incidents involving weapons being brought into court. As a result of this, we tightened up our search procedures. Later last year, reflecting the rise of acid attacks on the streets, our security advice was changed to recommend that liquids should not be allowed into court buildings without a ‘sip test’, unless they were in sealed cartons or cans.

These steps were important and right. We know that, though they are in the minority, people do sometimes come to court armed with articles, intending harm to themselves or others. People can also unwittingly attend court with items that could be used by others as a weapon, for example a small pen knife or scissors left in a work bag. Ensuring the safety of all our court users is paramount and we do all we can to do that in a proportionate way. But it is a challenge when in 2017/18 our security officers confiscated so many items which could cause harm including thousands of bladed items and work tools such as screwdrivers and hammers.

Recognising the practical impact on legal professionals

For those who work in court regularly, however, the tighter security has been troublesome. At times, it causes queues to form (though we have done our best to add extra officers and security arches where we can). The tighter security, with thorough bag searches, and requests to sip drinks has increased the time it takes to get into courts and tribunals. We have also seen some instances where searches and confiscations haven’t felt respectful or proportionate.

This has brought into focus an issue that had been raised before – the proposal that legal practitioners should have their trusted status recognised with fast-track entry to courts. We agreed to develop a scheme of this kind, and have been working closely with The Bar Council and The Law Society to develop a workable solution.

Making the ‘Professional Entry Scheme’ work

First, it is important that it is not HMCTS that decides or accredits who is a legal practitioner. I think that there are two priorities in getting this right and, along with the legal sector and professional bodies, we have a shared responsibility in this:

  • There must be a secure means of checking that people are who they say they are (identity) and that they are accredited legal professional (credentials); and
  • We must minimise the risk of those who intend harm being able to gain unauthorised access to our buildings without being security screened (by taking or mimicking credentials). The potential consequences don’t bear thinking about.

The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association (CLSA) and London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association (LCCSA) already provide an identity card which meets the security standards we need; and The Bar Council has announced it is making good progress in developing an electronic photo ID app, on which we have been working together to ensure it will meet our needs. They expect to be to begin operating this from the start of the pilot.
In the meantime, we are keen to begin testing the workings of the Professional Entry Scheme at the entrances to our buildings and have designed a way of doing this from September.

The pilot and how it will work

  • Participating courts: Starting in September 2018, and lasting for 12 weeks, we will test the Professional Entry Scheme in five courts: Brighton Magistrates’ Court; Maidstone Combined Court; Southwark Crown Court; Tameside Magistrates’ Court; and Wood Green Crown Court.
  • Pre-registration: In order to take part in the pilot, all legal practitioners will need to pre-register with the courts that they will be visiting during the pilot. Their Chambers, firm or legal body will need to confirm that they are a qualified legal professional who regularly uses the court.
  • Subsequent ID checks: Their name will then be held on a register at the court, and they will be asked to show a secure form of ID - a CLSA/LCCSA pass, Bar Council electronic pass app, a photo driving licence, or passport when entering the court. This will be matched against the registration list and they will be allowed in without security screening or searches of belongings.
  • Entering court: Southwark Crown Court, Wood Green Crown Court, Maidstone Combined Court and Brighton Magistrates’ Court will be trialling a separate ‘Professional Entry lane’ during peak times only; at all other times, solicitors and barristers will join the main queue, but will not be security screened when they reach the front at peak entry times.

CLSA and LCCSA will be involved in a second strand of the pilot, which will be a nationwide scheme and allow legal practitioners entry in to all courts, without being routinely searched, providing they have a valid CLSA or LCCSA photo ID card.

From today, legal professionals will be approached by either the Bar Council, the Law Society, HMCTS, CLSA or LCCSA to register for the pilot that they’re eligible for. We would be grateful for your patience and support to help make sure the scheme works for everyone involved.

Prohibited items will still be prohibited

Those taking part in the pilot will still be expected to observe the rules on items that are specifically not permitted in court.

For this reason, we are asking all participants to sign up to our ‘Conditions of Entry’ as part of the registration process which confirms the pilot rules and court arrangements. We have asked security to carry out random searches of a proportion of legal professional participating in the pilot, so that we can show how these rules are being adhered to. These searches will look to ensure that items we have specifically deemed as prohibited are not brought into the court and that the conditions of entry are being met. But we will adjust our approach to ‘other items’ and to the sip test to recognise professionals’ trusted status. So – in summary - you must not bring a knife to court, but your iPad stand, which is neither a weapon or a bladed article, is fine, and you can buy coffee for colleagues without the need to sip them all.

This has been agreed with both The Bar Council and The Law Society.

Expanding the scheme after the pilot

If the pilot is successful, we will expand it nationally. We will be conducting an evaluation of the pilot and expect to learn lessons from the pilot sites, and will be actively seeking feedback and suggestions from all those involved.

[English] - [Cymraeg]

Mynediad uniongyrchol i adeiladau’r llysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd

Adeiladau’r llysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd yw gweithle dyddiol llawer o bobl: gweithwyr GLlTEM; y farnwriaeth; Gwasanaeth Erlyn y Goron (CPS); yr heddlu, ein cydweithwyr o’r gwasanaeth carchardai a phrawf; ac ymarferwyr cyfreithiol. Rwyf wedi clywed y pryderon, a godwyd gan ymarferwyr cyfreithiol yn enwedig, ynghylch y ciwiau i ddod i mewn i'n hadeiladau, y gwiriadau diogelwch a ystyrir ganddynt i fod yn ddianghenraid a’r rhwystredigaeth pan fydd eitemau personol yn cael eu hatafaelu am resymau diogelwch. Rwyf felly wedi addo y byddaf yn gweithio gyda'r proffesiwn i wella'r sefyllfa.

Mae’n bleser gennyf ddweud y byddwn yr wythnos hon yn dechrau cofrestru ymarferwyr cyfreithiol yn y llysoedd maent yn eu defnyddio'n rheolaidd. Bydd y cynllun peilot yn symud ymlaen i'r ail gam ar 5 Medi, pan fydd y llysoedd sy'n cymryd rhan yn y cynllun peilot yn agor eu ‘traciau cyflym’ i’r rhai hynny sydd wedi cofrestru. Datblygwyd y cynllun hwn mewn partneriaeth â Chyngor y Bar a Chymdeithas y Gyfraith a bydd yn galluogi ymarferwyr cyfreithiol sydd wedi ymuno â’r cynllun i gael mynediad i’r adeilad yn gyflym. Os bydd yn llwyddiannus, byddwn yn ymestyn y 'Cynllun Mynediad Proffesiynol' i lysoedd eraill, ac efallai bydd yn cael ei ymestyn ymhellach i gyrff proffesiynol eraill, fel Gwasanaeth Erlyn y Goron.

Rheswm dros ddiogelwch llymach

Yn fuan ar ôl i mi ymuno â GLlTEM (yn 2016), roedd yna gyfres o ddigwyddiadau yn ymwneud ag unigolion yn dod ag arfau i mewn i'r llys. O ganlyniad i hyn, bu inni wneud ein gweithdrefnau chwilio yn llymach. Tuag at ddiwedd 2017, gan adlewyrchu cynnydd mewn ymosodiadau gydag asid ar y strydoedd, newidiodd ein cyngor diogelwch i argymell na ddylai hylifau gael eu caniatáu mewn adeiladau llys oni bai bod yr unigolyn yn gwneud 'prawf yfed', neu fod yr hylifau mewn caniau neu gartonau wedi’u selio.

Roedd y camau hyn yn rhai pwysig ac yn gywir. Gwyddwn, er eu bod yn y lleiafrif, bod rhai unigolion yn dod i'r llys gydag eitemau peryglus gyda’r bwriad o niweidio ei hunain neu bobl eraill. Gall unigolion hefyd, yn anfwriadol, fynychu'r llys gan gario eitemau a all gael eu defnyddio fel arf gan eraill, e.e. cyllell boced fach neu siswrn sydd wedi’u gadael mewn bag gwaith. Mae sicrhau diogelwch holl ddefnyddwyr ein llysoedd yn hollbwysig, ac rydym yn gwneud popeth o fewn ein gallu i sicrhau hynny mewn ffordd gymesur. Ond mae’n her, ac yn 2017/18 bu i’n swyddogion diogelwch atafaelu nifer o eitemau a allai achosi niwed, gan gynnwys miloedd o eitemau gyda llafn, ac offerynnau gwaith fel sgriwdreifers a morthwyli.

Cydnabod yr effaith ymarferol ar ymarferwyr cyfreithiol

Fodd bynnag, ar gyfer y rhai hynny sy'n gweithio yn y llys yn rheolaidd, mae'r mesurau diogelwch llymach wedi bod yn broblemus. Weithiau, mae'n achosi ciwiau (er ein bod wedi gwneud ein gorau i gael rhagor o swyddogion a bwâu diogelwch lle bo modd). Mae’r mesurau diogelwch llymach, gyda chwiliadau trylwyr o fagiau a gofyn i unigolion yfed rhywfaint o'u diodydd wedi cynyddu’r amser y mae'n cymryd i fynd i mewn i lysoedd a thribiwnlysoedd. Rydym hefyd wedi profi achlysuron lle nad oedd y broses chwilio ac atafaelu yn barchus neu nid oedd yn gymesur.

Mae hyn wedi tynnu sylw at fater a godwyd o'r blaen - sef y cynnig y dylid cydnabod ymarferwyr cyfreithiol fel rhai y gellir ymddiried ynddynt trwy ganiatáu iddynt gael mynediad cyflym i’r llysoedd. Cytunwyd i ddatblygu cynllun o'r fath, ac rydym wedi bod yn gweithio'n agos â Chyngor y Bar a Chymdeithas y Gyfraith i ddatblygu datrysiad ymarferol.

Sicrhau bod y 'Cynllun Mynediad Proffesiynol' yn gweithio

Yn gyntaf, mae'n bwysig nad GLlTEM sy'n penderfynu neu’n achredu pwy sy'n ymarferwr cyfreithiol. Rwy’n credu bod dwy flaenoriaeth wrth geisio gwneud hyn yn iawn, ac ar y cyd â’r sector cyfreithiol a chyrff proffesiynol, rydym wedi rhannu'r cyfrifoldeb dros hyn:

  • Mae’n rhaid cael ffordd ddiogel o wirio pwy yw unigolyn (hunaniaeth) a gwirio eu bod yn weithiwr cyfreithiol proffesiynol achrededig (cymwysterau); ac
  • Mae’n rhaid inni leihau’r risg o’r rhai hynny sy’n bwriadu niweidio rhywun gael mynediad anawdurdodedig i'n hadeiladau heb gael gwiriad diogelwch (trwy fynd â chymwysterau gyda hwy neu gyflwyno rhai ffug). Mae’r goblygiadau posibl yn erchyll.

Mae Cymdeithas Cyfreithwyr y Gyfraith Droseddol (CLSA) a Chymdeithas Cyfreithwyr Llysoedd Troseddol Llundain (LCCSA) eisoes yn darparu cerdyn adnabod sy'n bodloni'r safonau diogelwch sydd eu hangen; ac mae Cyngor y Bar wedi cyhoeddi ei fod yn gwneud cynnydd da yn datblygu ap ar gyfer creu cardiau adnabod â llun electronig, ac rydym wedi bod yn gweithio arno ar y cyd i sicrhau y bydd yn bodloni ein hanghenion. Rhagwelir y bydd hwn yn weithredol o ddechrau'r cynllun peilot.

Yn y cyfamser, rydym yn awyddus i ddechrau profi sut bydd y Cynllun Mynediad Proffesiynol yn gweithio ym mynediadau ein hadeiladau ac rydym wedi cynllunio ffordd i wneud hyn o fis Medi ymlaen.

Y cynllun peilot a sut bydd yn gweithio

  • Y llysoedd sy’n cymryd rhan: Yn cychwyn ym mis Medi 2018 am gyfnod o 12 wythnos, byddwn yn profi'r Cynllun Mynediad Proffesiynol mewn pum llys: Llys Ynadon Brighton, Llys Cyfun Maidstone, Llys y Goron Southwark, Llys Ynadon Tameside a Llys y Goron Wood Green.
  • Cyn-gofrestru: Er mwyn cymryd rhan yn y cynllun peilot, bydd gofyn i’r holl ymarferwyr cyfreithiol cyn-gofrestru gyda’r llysoedd y byddant yn ymweld â hwy yn ystod y cynllun. Bydd rhaid i’w Siambrau, ffyrm neu gorff cyfreithiol gadarnhau eu bod yn weithiwr proffesiynol cymwys sy'n defnyddio'r llys yn rheolaidd.
  • Gwiriadau hunaniaeth dilynol: Yna bydd eu henw yn cael ei gadw ar gofrestr yn y llys, ac fe ofynnir iddynt ddangos prawf diogel o’u hunaniaeth - cerdyn CLSA/LCCSA, ap cerdyn adnabod electronig Cyngor y Bar, trwydded yrru cerdyn llun, neu basbort - pan fyddant yn dod i mewn i'r llys. Bydd hyn yn cael ei wirio ochr yn ochr â’r rhestr gofrestru a byddant yn cael mynediad i'r adeilad heb fod yn destun gweithdrefnau a chwiliadau diogelwch.
  • Dod i mewn i’r Llys: Bydd Llys y Goron Southwark, Llys y Goron Wood Green, Llys Cyfun Maidstone a Llys Ynadon Brighton yn cynnal treial o 'Llwybr Mynediad Proffesiynol' ar wahân yn ystod amseroedd prysur yn unig; ar bob adeg arall bydd cyfreithwyr a bargyfreithwyr yn ymuno â'r ciw arferol, ond ni fyddant yn destun sgrinio diogelwch pan fyddant yn cyrraedd blaen y rhes yn ystod adegau prysur.

Bydd y CLSA a’r LCCSA yn chwarae rhan yn ail elfen y cynllun peilot, a fydd yn gynllun cenedlaethol a fydd yn rhoi mynediad i ymarferwyr cyfreithiol yn yr holl lysoedd, heb gael eu chwilio yn rheolaidd, cyn belled bod ganddynt gerdyn adnabod â llun CLSA neu LCCSA â llun.

Heddiw, bydd Cyngor y Bar, Cymdeithas y Gyfraith, CLSA a LCCSA yn dechrau cyfarwyddo gweithwyr cyfreithiol proffesiynol i gofrestru ar gyfer y cynllun peilot. Byddwn yn ddiolchgar am eich amynedd a'ch cefnogaeth i helpu i sicrhau bod y cynllun yn gweithio i bawb sy'n rhan ohono.

Bydd eitemau gwaharddedig yn parhau i gael eu gwahardd

Disgwylir i’r sawl sy'n cymryd rhan yn y cynllun peilot ddilyn y rheolau o ran eitemau penodol ni chaniateir yn y llys.

Am y rheswm hwn, rydym yn gofyn i gyfranogwyr lofnodi ein ‘Amodau Mynediad’, fel rhan o’r broses gofrestru, sy'n cadarnhau rheolau'r cynllun peilot a threfniadau'r llys. Rydym wedi gofyn i'r timau diogelwch gynnal chwiliadau ar hap gyda chanran o'r gweithwyr cyfreithiol proffesiynol sy'n cymryd rhan yn y cynllun peilot, fel ein bod yn gallu gweld sut mae'r rheolau hyn yn cael eu dilyn. Bydd y chwiliadau hyn yn anelu at sicrhau bod eitemau sy’n cael eu hystyried yn rhai gwaharddedig ddim yn dod i mewn i'r llys a bod yr amodau mynediad yn cael eu bodloni. Byddwn yn addasu ein dull o ran ‘eitemau eraill' ac addasu’r prawf yfed i gydnabod statws gweithwyr cyfreithiol proffesiynol. Felly - i grynhoi - ni ddylech ddod â chyllell i’r llys, ond mae stand eich iPad, gan nad yw'n arf neu’n eitem sydd â llafn, yn berffaith iawn a gallwch brynu coffi i'ch cydweithwyr heb orfod yfed ychydig o bob un.

Mae hyn wedi’i gytuno â Chyngor y Bar a Chymdeithas y Gyfraith.

Ymestyn y cynllun ar ôl y cynllun peilot

Os bydd y cynllun peilot yn llwyddiannus, byddwn yn ei ymestyn yn genedlaethol. Byddwn yn cynnal gwerthusiad o’r cynllun peilot a rhagwelwn y byddwn yn dysgu gwersi gan safleoedd y cynllun peilot. Byddwn yn croesawu adborth ac awgrymiadau gan y rhai oedd yn rhan ohono.

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  1. Comment by Keith Middleton posted on

    As a regular user of Maidstone Combined Court, I welcome the pilot study and wish it every success.

    KS Middleton
    Solicitor Advocate
    Morlings Solicitors

  2. Comment by C O'Hare posted on

    I hope this is successful; due to shortage of space in the County Court here, we are often sent to 3 different buildings and have 3 different security searches to go through. I hope also the scheme can be rolled out to CILEX fellows or members who regularly appear in court too.

  3. Comment by Simon Allen posted on

    Could I make a plea that this scheme is extended to me? I am a practising solicitor with Higher Rights. However, I work self-employed in Sussex. So often these schemes are rolled out to organisations or firms. Can individuals such as myself have access to this facility which will save much time in entering court buildings?

    • Replies to Simon Allen>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications Team posted on


      Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and give us your feedback, which is very useful.

      This does present a challenge for us - we're clear that it shouldn't be for HMCTS to determine who is or is not a lawyer. So we would need to find a way of making this work for professionals like you.

      The membership bodies involved in the pilot are: The Bar Council, The Law Society, Criminal Law Solicitors' Association, and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association.

      If the pilot is successful with these groups, we'll look to extend it to others. We'll consider what options there might be for those who are self-employed.

      Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

  4. Comment by Bob Anon posted on

    I cannot see this as anything other than a knee-jerk reaction to recent queue problems. Speaking with a number of barristers and solicitors, a large proportion don't care for the proposal and nor do a number of court managers. I prefer to be in a court where I know everyone is seen as equal and everyone is searched. It makes me feel safer.
    The guidance notes state "the number of prohibited items surrendered and processed will also be reduced" which gives cause for concern. If not searching legal professionals will cause such a great reduction in prohibited items then I fear for the future safety of the courts. Legal professionals are still people and, as in every profession, there may be a few bad apples.
    Also, using a passport or driving license as ID does not show an officer that the person is a legal professional. Sure, the name may be on the approved list but there are more than one person with a particular name. It needs to be a secure and specific legal professional ID that only legal professionals are able to obtain.

    • Replies to Bob Anon>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications Team posted on

      Thank you for reading our blog, and getting in touch about our Professional Entry Scheme pilot.

      We've listened to feedback from legal professionals - individuals and their representative organisations - and we recognise the frustrations that they sometimes experience. The pilot Professional Entry Scheme has been developed in partnership with the Bar Council and the Law Society in direct response to the concerns that have been raised with us. Legal professionals will have to sign up to a 'conditions of entry' agreement before they can take part in the scheme. This includes affirmation that they will never bring prohibited items in to a court building and we will randomly check those taking part in the pilot to ensure that the conditions are being adhered to.

      Keeping our buildings, and the people who use them, safe remains our priority. There are stringent checks in place to verify and check ID - and we'll be testing and reviewing these as part of the pilot so that we can recognise the trusted status of legal professionals without compromising security.

      Thanks again for taking the time to give us your feedback.