Monidipa Fouzder 2018

Monidipa Fouzder

Rarely a week goes by without a lawyer sharing a farcical tale of court security confiscating a 'dangerous' item such as hand sanitiser gel, umbrella or, I was told this week, a jar of nutella. These tales are often amusing. However, the latest one is no laughing matter.

Earlier this week barrister Danielle Manson tweeted about her 'total humiliation' when she was 'forced to remove sanitary products from my bag by security in full view of members of the public and my client. Even after explaining I was a barrister and there for a case'.

Manson says she asked to speak to a manager and was told he was too busy. 'A "supervisor" however was there and responded to my complaint by shouting over to his security officers "well done guys, you're doing a great job".

I was fully expecting to see HM Courts & Tribunals Service tweet how sorry it was that a woman was made to feel humiliated for taking out items to deal with something that's beyond her control. Alas, no.

'Our security guidelines state that court security officers should not place their hands inside visitor bags. Instead, visitors are asked to open their bags to display the contents and, if necessary, asked to move or remove items so a thorough search can be made,' HMCTS tweeted.

'We're very sorry you felt our security search process...did not meet our guidance and standards to ensure a safe environment for all users.'

Imagine if a vulnerable client, scared witless having to go to court, was made to take out sanitary pads or tampons in full view of everyone? The last thing they need is to feel humiliated just trying to enter the building.

The government's website states that, going through security at a court building, 'your bags and pockets will be checked like they would be at an airport'. In all my life, airport security staff have never asked me to remove sanitary towels or tampons from my bag.

HMCTS needs to revisit its security search guidelines and training. Perhaps it could start by reminding staff that tampons aren't dangerous.