An identity card scheme exclusively revealed in the Gazette will enable solicitors to bypass security checks in more than 300 courts and tribunals from today.
All solicitors with a practising certificate can now register for the professional users’ access scheme, which will allow them to enter 304 HM Courts & Tribunals Service buildings without undergoing a routine security search on each visit. There will be separate fast-access lanes for members of the scheme during the busiest times of the day, where possible.
The new arrangement has been developed by the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association (LCCSA) and the Criminal Law Solicitors Association (CLSA), with investment from the Law Society.
Since 2018, more than 4,700 barristers have downloaded the Bar Council’s digital ID app – to the frustration of solicitors required to queue for checks. Last month the Crown Prosecution Service also joined the scheme, meaning that prosecutors are now eligible to register for membership.
Law Society president David Greene said: ‘The work solicitors do underpins justice. We’re therefore very pleased that we’ve been able to come to an arrangement with partner organisations so our members can obtain ID which helps them fast-track into court premises in a way that helps court security for everyone using the courts or working there.
‘Given the physical issues raised by the ongoing pandemic, anything that can ease access to courts and tribunals and save time for our members, and consequently all others, is to be welcomed.’
President of the LCCSA Mark Troman strongly encouraged solicitors to apply for an ID card. Daniel Bonich, chair of the CLSA, added that the scheme recognises the ‘crucial role our members and fellow solicitors play in the proper administration of justice’.
While barristers receive digital ID from the Bar Council, which they download on to their smartphones, solicitors are expected to receive physical cards. These cards will then be scanned at court with equipment provided by HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
The ID card system has now been implemented at 304 courts and tribunals in England and Wales; 12 sites have yet to join the scheme.