A scheme which enables barristers to bypass court security has been rolled out in 30 more courts – but solicitors still have to undergo searches.
The professional access scheme – which allows barristers to use electronic ID cards to avoid onerous security checks – is now in operation in 55 courts, including ones in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Oxford and Durham.
Barristers receive digital identification cards from the Bar Council, which they download onto their mobile phones or tablets. These cards are then scanned at court with equipment provided by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
Speaking at the annual bar conference, Richard Atkins QC, chair of the Bar Council, said the scheme has ‘so far been a success’ despite ‘some teething troubles’. He said the initiative will be rolled out in all courts by summer next year.
Solicitors cannot currently skip court security, according to the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA), which piloted the professional access scheme for solicitors in 2018, along with the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association.
According to LCCSA – which is in talks with HMCTS about reintroducing the programme – the ID cards had cost and security implications. The Law Society is also in informal discussions with HMCTS on how to go forward.