Barristers have continued to protest against ‘insulting and contemptuous’ behaviour by court security staff after an advocate allegedly had their child’s marker pens and toy car confiscated for fear they could be used as a ‘weapon’.
The bizarre account was included in the Criminal Bar Association’s weekly message posted today.
Although the message largely focused on poor listing practices it said the issue was ‘compounded’ for one member after security staff at an unnamed court centre confiscated her child’s pens and car because it was thought she ‘might use the pens for graffiti and the car as a weapon’.
The member complained and an apology was issued.
CBA chair Angela Rafferty wrote: ‘How are members of the public and witnesses treated, who may never complain? It is a real sign of how low things have got when professional court users are subjected to this insulting and contemptuous behaviour.’
On poor listings, Rafferty said counsel have reported cases, some involving young and vulnerable witnesses, being subjected to ‘ill-considered and illogical lists’ that ignore the needs of witnesses, defendants counsel and all other court users’.
She added: ‘Cases are still listed at 10am when it is known that remanded defendants will not be there. This needlessly undermines the relationship of goodwill between advocates and the courts.’
She said the CBA has a spreadsheet of all listing incidents reported to it and that it will pass the list on to HM Courts & Tribunal Service.
Rafferty continued: ‘When these issues arise it seems judges vary from helpful and apologetic to dismissive and resigned. We ask for more help and more consideration from the judiciary on this.
’There cannot be another profession that endures as much wasted preparation as ours due to factors entirely outside our own control,’ she added.