Court bans children over security fear

A clerk at Oldham Magistrates' Court has banned children from the court's buildings because of worries about security.

In a move believed to be the first of its kind, the clerk to the court introduced a ban on children in the courtrooms and concourse last week.

The clerk and chief executive, Kathleen Johnson, said that the increasing number of small children brought to court caused tension and adversely affected security. They also witnessed unpleasant clashes between adults.

Most of the children accompanied parents who were not on bail but had come to support a defendant.

“I am conscious that I am responsible for security in that area. There is no police presence in the court and only one security officer. I took this decision as a last resort – we don't have funds for a creche and are really stuck for space,” Johnson said.

Local lawyers are being asked to explain to their clients that court is not a suitable place for children unless they actually have to appear before the magistrate. In future parents attending court are expected to leave their children with childminders.

President of the Justices' Clerks Society Lawrence Cramp said that although this is an unusual move the justices' clerk is well within her rights to introduce a ban.