Magistrates courts break health and safety laws

Nearly two thirds of magistrates courts are breaking health and safety laws, a new survey reveals.

The survey by the Association of Magisterial Officers (AMO) of almost 300 courts in England and Wales reveals that 64 per cent of courts have not carried out any risk assessment, which they have been legally required to do since 1992.

The survey also reveals that 70 per cent of courts have no written procedure for dealing with violence, 66 per cent have no procedure for identifying in advance court users who have a history of violence, and a whopping 86 per cent have no procedure for scanning people for metal devices, such as knives and syringes.

Rosie Eagleson, AMO general secretary, says: “It is shocking that courts, which are responsible for enforcing health and safety laws, are themselves failing to comply in such significant numbers.”

She says the “most alarming statistic” is the massive percentage of courts failing to provide a metal detection facility which, she says, would be easy to do.

She also says that more resources should be provided to improve security measures in courts, which, she says, have dwindled to “astonishingly low levels” since the police presence was withdrawn from the courts about five years ago.

She describes a catalogue of violence and danger faced by court staff on a regular basis, including syringes taped to stairways and doors, kicking, punching, spitting and verbal abuse.

“It is clear that as employers, magistrates courts are not providing adequate safety systems to protect their staff and urgent action is needed,” says Eagleson.