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Government announces easier court entrance for legal professionals

Pilot will allow fast-track entry from September

Legal professionals have been encouraged to register with their local court in advance of a government pilot designed to reduce queues and grant them easier access.

A scheme allowing practising legal professionals direct entrance to courts without the need to be searched will be piloted by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in five courts, with registration beginning in August and fast-track entry from September.

The Bar Council has led the development of an app for its members to use as ID, and Law Society members will benefit from the pilot, using approved photo ID.

While tightened security procedures introduced during the last year will continue, the 'Professional Entry Scheme' intends to ease queues to get into court buildings and allow easier and swifter access for legal professionals who come to court regularly.

The scheme will recognise the trusted status of legal professionals without compromising security and is supported by the judiciary.

Law Society President, Christina Blacklaws, said:

"There is no doubt that easier access will benefit our members and we welcome this sensible initiative.

"We have spoken to HMCTS officials about the delays practitioners can face in clearing security and we hope the pilot will pave the way for a permanent system of easier access."

In advance of the pilot, practising legal professions will need to register with their local court, agree to conditions of entry (which continue to include a list of prohibited items) and meet secure ID authentication requirements when they attend court. This includes identifying themselves as a legal professional and showing photographic ID, which will be checked by a court security officer against a registration list.

Random searches on a proportion of the participants in the pilot will be carried out to make sure the scheme is working as intended.

If successful, the scheme will be extended nationally and could be grown to other professional groups. It will not be implemented at courts hearing terrorist or high security cases.

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