Rapid testing offered at four more court sites

  • expansion of on-site rapid testing to four more court sites
  • roll-out follows launch of on-site rapid testing and home testing pilots at courts across the country
  • plans to provide more rapid tests to staff and court users over coming weeks

From next week, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) will offer on-site rapid testing at four courts to people who attend scheduled hearings and are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. This follows recent on-site and home-test pilots at our courts, with plans to further expand workplace testing across our estate over the coming weeks.

On-site rapid testing will be offered to court users attending scheduled hearings at Leeds Combined Court, Leicester Crown Court, Reading Crown Court and Winchester Combined Court. The tests will be offered to all staff, judiciary, jurors, contractors, legal professionals, witness services, and professional court users who visit the site. Rapid testing will also be offered to staff at Northampton County Court Business Centre, which is a back-office site that is not open to the public.

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing. Regular, rapid testing plays a critical role in safer working, stopping the spread of the virus, and is key to breaking the chains of transmission.

Earlier this year, HMCTS launched on-site testing pilots at Manchester Civil Justice Centre and Southwark Crown Court, to inform plans for workplace testing in the justice system. In March, a further home testing pilot was rolled out across five court sites.

Kevin Sadler, Acting CEO of HMCTS, said:

Justice is an essential service for victims, witnesses, families in crisis and defendants waiting in custody. Throughout the pandemic our courts and tribunals have been operating to ensure this vital service is maintained.

We are pleased to be working across government to roll-out on-site testing across four court sites. We plan to expand the availability of rapid testing to our court users, and to our staff, and we continue to encourage all to make use of the community testing facilities that are available.

Lateral flow tests used by the UK Government go through a rigorous evaluation by the country’s leading scientists. Tests detect cases with high levels of virus, making them effective in finding infectious individuals who aren’t showing any symptoms and are the most likely to transmit the disease.

The tests are voluntary and detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.

Once the test gives a result, individuals are expected to register their results via NHS Test and Trace. If the test gives a positive result, the court user will be required to follow NHS advice. Anyone receiving a negative test should continue to follow the social distancing guidelines for their area, following Hands, Face, Space, and avoiding risky behaviours.

Every building we operate – including our Nightingale courts – meet the government’s COVID-secure guidelines, and public health experts have confirmed our arrangements remain sufficient to deal with the new strain of the virus.

Workplace testing is now available to all businesses, including those with fewer than 50 employees. The government has launched an online portal for businesses to

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