In these changing times, I have accepted with equanimity the need to be searched on entering court buildings, notwithstanding that I am known in my local magistrates’ court, where 1 have been practising for over 30 years.
I have however recently come into conflict with Her Majesty’s Courts Service in relation to their guidance ‘Court security officers duties and responsibilities’, whereby they insist that I will be refused access to court buildings unless I agree to open my own (unlocked) bag and agree to remove from it any articles they request me to remove. The security staff justify their refusal to open the bag themselves or put their hands in it to remove articles themselves on ‘health and safety’ grounds (theirs, not mine).
I have pointed out to HMCS that there is nothing in the Courts Act 2003 that entitles access to be refused to a member of the public who declines an invitation by a security officer to unzip a bag or remove articles from the bag when permission has been given by the member of the public to the security officer to do these acts themselves. I have not to date received a conclusive reply.
I am fed up with ‘jobsworths’ imposing rules and threatening sanctions which have no apparent legal foundation. As other members of the profession may have similar concerns, might I suggest that someone in the Ministry of Justice give me an appropriate response (dealing with the legal issues, not health and safety).
Clive Booth, Clive Booth & Co, Bishop Auckland