WEEKEND UPDATE Covid-19 Stakeholder Update from the Ministry of Justice

This update was sent out by the Ministry of Justice:

This is the Ministry of Justice’s regular stakeholder communications update service. This is intended to signpost the latest Covid-19 guidance and central government updates.

We would find it helpful to know about your own communications plans and any intel that will help inform our communications moving forwards. If you know an organisation which should to be added to the list please do get in touch at samantha.abrahams@justice.gov.uk or shamir.patel1@justice.gov.uk

We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those people who have been in touch this week providing intel and feedback, enabling us to improve our communications. Please do keep sending through your resources and ideas.

Please find today’s update below.

We have robust and well-established plans to ensure we can continue to deliver key services across the justice system. Legislation is being sought through an emergency bill in response to the virus that could extend the circumstances in which a court can direct the use of audio or video links. Prisons are well prepared to take immediate action wherever cases or suspected cases are identified, including the isolation of individuals where necessary.

NEW: Clarification on legal practitioners covered by key worker category The Government has confirmed that keyworkers include those “essential to the running of the justice system”. On Friday, the Ministry of Justice shared a list of key workers within this category.

We would like to provide further clarification of those legal practitioners covered within this category who are essential to the running of the justice system, and, in particular, the courts and tribunals:

· Advocates (including solicitor advocates) required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person), including prosecutors

· Other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice including duty solicitors (police station and court) and barristers, solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings

· Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills

· Solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty

Only legal practitioners who work on the types of matters, cases and hearings listed above, will be permitted to be classified as a keyworker.

In addition, some legal practitioners will intermittently fall into this category because they need to provide advice or attend a hearing for an urgent matter relating, for example, to safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, or a public safety matter. For the limited time required to deliver this work, a legal practitioner will be a key worker.

As the Government has said, many parents who are key workers may be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child that can safely be cared for at home, should be.

As events evolve this guidance may change. Please ensure you regularly check this and other Government guidance for the most up to date information.

HMPPS

HMPPS has been working closely with Public Health and NHS services, as well as criminal justice partners, to put robust contingency plans in place. The plans prioritise the safety of staff, prisoners, visitors and offenders under supervision in the community, whilst seeking to minimise disruption to normal services and ensure public protection. The following page will continue to be updated when new advice is available: gov.uk/guidance/coron

HMCTS

During this unprecedented public health emergency, it’s essential that our courts and tribunals continue to administer justice. We are adjusting practices and taking steps to minimise any risk to the judiciary, court staff and users. Any changes to individual hearings will be communicated directly to those affected in the usual way, by email and/or phone. The following page will continue to be updated when new advice is available: gov.uk/guidance/coron

Latest general guidance NEW Major new measures to protect people at highest risk from Coronavirus – gov.uk/government/new

Guidance for businesses – gov.uk/government/pub

Home isolation / ‘stay at home’ guidance – gov.uk/government/pub

Social distancing / vulnerable people – gov.uk/government/pub

Please continue to refer to GOV.UK/coronavirus for the latest information on the situation in the UK and the Government’s response. For information about the illness and symptoms visit nhs.uk/coronavirus

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