Plastic screens are to be installed in 250 courts and retiring rooms by the end of October, while Portakabin buildings are to be set up for deliberating juries, according to a government announcement.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service said it has identified almost 200 courtrooms and 59 retiring rooms which would benefit from plexiglass screens. So far, screens for juries have only been installed in one courtroom in Leeds and three in Liverpool.
In a government blog post, HMCTS said ‘an ambitious rolling programme of works is underway’.
‘By the end of October, we expect to have rapidly increased capacity, thanks to installation of the screens in around 250 court and retiring rooms,’ it said.
The court service is also considering where to set up modular buildings. According to HMCTS, these will be insulated spaces with running water suitable to be used as jury deliberating rooms. It is hoped the units will reduce pressure on court building facilities and in some cases free up courtrooms currently being used for that purpose.
Jury trials have now resumed in 67 Crown courts. Meanwhile, Cloth Hall Court in Leeds, and the Knights’ Chamber at Peterborough Cathedral became operational as so-called Nightingale courts on Friday, taking the total number of additional court venues to 10.
President of the Law Society Simon Davis said: ‘It is essential that HMCTS maximises the use of physical court space in a way that minimises the risk to court users. These measures appear to be a good method of increasing court usage safely within normal court hours.’