LAWYERS have raised concerns about their safety in court buildings as new covid variants surge.

In a new report, barristers’ body the Western Circuit called for safety policies to be urgently reviewed and asked the government to publish the basis on which they believe it is safe for trials to continue given new, more transmissible Covid-19 variants.

The report’s authors wrote: “Many criminal practitioners no longer feel safe to attend criminal courts across the Western Circuit.”

Specific fears were raised about conference rooms at Swindon Crown Court being too small. 

HM Courts and Tribunal Service did not directly answer the calls in the report, but said court staff followed the government’s “Covid-secure guidelines” and the measures had been signed off by public health experts as sufficient to deal with the new strain of the virus.

Figures released by the government last week showed that 69 judges had tested positive for coronavirus in the past seven weeks. There had been no positive coronavirus cases at Swindon Crown Court or Swindon County Court, although one member of staff was said to have tested positive for the virus at Swindon Magistrates' Court.