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Call to improve security at court

Security at the Supreme Court must be improved, Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons has said.

“The physical security of the building, and of the judges in particular, is conspicuous by its absence,” Ms Justice Simmons said.

“The House of Assembly has secured the grounds for their premises, however the electronic gates are inadequate to secure the judges, juries and witnesses.

“The provisional security for criminal trials should not be there on an ad hoc basis or after the horse has bolted, but rather permanent, full time and physical both for a deterrent and protection.”

Ms Justice Simmons was speaking at the ceremonial opening of the legal year last week.

She also said court staff continued to work in “old, crumbling” buildings.

Ms Justice Simmons said that even though the lower floor of Sessions House had been renovated and jury conditions had improved, staff had suffered with substandard conditions and she had been forced to work in a “pop-up” courtroom in Magistrates’ Court.

She added: “In 2016, we were proud to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the continuous operation of courts in this country.

“There has not been much improvement since then in the provision of adequate or modern accommodations for the criminal division.”

Ms Justice Simmons said Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, had to deliver more than lip service to deal with the urgent needs of the courts.

She added: “Court funding must be dealt with accordingly so that the court can perform its constitutional functions efficiently and effectively.

“That necessarily requires an excemption from zero-based budgeting and such austerity measures.”