Search procedures at Stratford Magistrates' Court (pictured above), which came under fire after a solicitor was allegedly assaulted by security staff, are to be made less onerous for most court users. 

Under the new regime, enhanced searches, which includes a pat down and shoe removal, will no longer take place at the court's front doors but be conducted outside courtrooms hearing protester cases.

Members of the Professional Users Access Scheme (PUAS) will be exempt from searches unless selected at random. 

Enhanced searches will always be carried out by security guards of the same gender.

The new measures, introduced on 28 May, will be regularly reviewed by HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

A Law Society spokesperson said: ‘Following a number of serious incidents at Stratford Magistrates’ Court, which our members made us aware of, we raised concerns about the searching procedures with HMCTS.

‘The safety of our members is paramount and we welcome the changes that HMCTS have introduced as a result. Professional users of Stratford Magistrates’ Court will no longer be subject to an enhanced search, which should provide a better experience for our members.

‘We will continue to speak to our members to find out how the changes have impacted their experience and raise any further issues with HMCTS.’

Security at Stratford Magistrates' Court came under criticism earlier this year following incidents and complaints of 'over-zealous and heavy-handed' searches by court staff. The London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association made an official complaint to HMCTS about the ‘invasive’ enhanced searches.

An altercation, where a duty solicitor was forcibly removed from the court, led to top London set Garden Court Chambers announcing it would not send pupils to Stratford until security issues had been ‘fully investigated and reported’.

A HMCTS spokesperson said: ‘Our security measures are designed to protect the safety of all court users within our premises. We regularly review our local risk assessments for security checks and have identified that enhanced searches at Stratford Magistrates' Court can be limited to those attending and entering courtrooms dealing with specifically identified cases.’


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