Suggested Emergency Protocol during COVID-19 Outbreak

During the current epidemic, the criminal justice community must do what we can to keep the justice system going, but in a way which does not ignore the pleas from NHS workers, who are risking their lives to keep us safe.

In order to stem the spread of the virus, our courts and police stations must urgently adopt the following measures:

1. Delay non-urgent cases
Adjourn non-urgent criminal cases for 2 months. Criteria for ‘non urgent’ to be agreed with professional bodies, Senior Judiciary, HMCTS and MOJ.

2. Adopt remote hearings
Urgent hearings to be temporarily conducted by video or telephone where possible so long as fair trial rights are maintained. These technologies to be urgently improved and expanded to allow non-urgent hearings to be phased back after 2 months.

3. Prioritise arrest cases
Arrests to be reserved for essential cases only, with an increased use of street bail. Voluntary interviews and postal requisitions to be delayed where possible.

4. Avoid physical attendance
If the detention of suspects is necessary, solicitors and appropriate adults to be permitted to attend via video-link, using facilities already in place for translators.

5. Make facilities safe
Where physical attendance at court or police stations is required, Covid-19 risk assessment of defendants to be carried out and all relevant parties provided with a copy, regular deep cleans of all facilitates, and hand sanitiser made widely available.

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