Process for bail defendants attending sentence hearings at Newcastle Crown Court during Covid-19

As from Monday 11th May 2020, defendants who are on bail will be required to attend Newcastle Crown Court in person when their case is listed for sentence. The expectation is that advocates (prosecution and defence) will attend sentence hearings remotely via the Cloud Video Platform (CVP). Conferences between defence advocates and defendants must be conducted in advance of the day the case is listed for sentence.

Hearings will be heard in Court 1 on the third floor.

List to be staggered

The list will be staggered, with cases listed at hourly intervals: (a) to ensure that there is compliance with social distancing measures of 2 metres; and, (b) to keep to a minimum the number of individuals in the Court building at any one time. Defendants must arrive at Newcastle Crown Court no earlier than 30 minutes before and no later than 15 minutes before their sentence hearing.

Defendant attending

The defendant and any accompanying individuals (up to a maximum of 3) will enter the building through the front entrance and pass through usual security checks. The defendant and any accompanying individual(s) will be seated on marked seats in the  waiting area. Security will contact the Clerk in Court 1  to inform the Clerk that the defendant has arrived. Once the Court is ready to start, the Clerk will inform the Usher who will tannoy for the defendant to come to Court 1 on the third floor.

Flow to Courtroom

Once called by tannoy, the defendant and any accompanying individual(s) will take the one-way system (via the lifts) to the third floor (only 1 person in a lift at a time). Upon arrival, the defendant and any accompanying individual(s) will be met by an Usher and will be asked to follow the one-way system (inner side of screens) to the entrance to Court 1 and stop at the tape on the floor.

Entering Court

A hand sanitising station consisting of antibacterial wipes and foam sanitiser will be set up at the entrance to the Court and an Usher will offer these facilities to the defendant and any accompanying individual(s). The defendant and any accompanying individual(s) will then enter Court. An Usher will move the screen at the entrance door so that any person coming back out of Court will follow the one-way exit route (outer side of screen).

Courtroom

Once in the Courtroom, an Usher, who will be located at the back of the advocates’ bench, will ask: (a) any individual(s) accompanying the defendant to sit on numbered seats in the public gallery; and, (b) the defendant to walk to the Geoamey officer in the dock and submit to search procedures.

Attendees in Court

  • Judge
  • Clerk
  • Usher 1 (inside of Court)
  • Usher 2 (outside of Court)
  • Geoamey dock officer
  • Press x 2 – All seats available for use will be labelled and others taped off.
  • Public x 3 – All seats available for use will be labelled and others taped off.
  • (Advocates are expected to attend via CVP).

Seating and consultation rooms

Albeit the aim is to bring defendants from the ground floor to the Courtroom without the need to wait on the concourse, there will be marked seating available on the concourse if required.

If the matter is stood down

If the case is stood down for a period, the defendant and any accompanying individual(s) may be asked to walk to the defence witness waiting area using the one way system (outer side of screens) and wait in that area (at all times adhering to social distancing of 2 metres) until the hearing is resumed.

Toilets

Toilets are located on the ground floor for the use of defendants / any accompanying individual(s) before heading up to Court. There is also a single disabled toilet available for use on the third floor.

Exit the Court and building

Upon conclusion of the sentence hearing, any individual(s) exiting through the public area will, on leaving Court, follow the one-way system (outer side of screens) and then head to the ground floor using the stairs, at all times adhering to social distancing of 2 metres.

Cleaning

A cleaner has been allocated to the areas that will be used by defendants and any accompanying individual(s) when attending sentencing hearings. All relevant areas will be cleaned after each use.

Security

An OCS security guard will be allocated to the third floor. The guard will patrol and provide a constant presence on the third floor when hearings are listed.

Fire

In the event of an alarm activation or fire, defendants and any accompanying individual(s) will be asked to exit the building by the main staircase or the staircase leading to the exit on Cox Chare. The meeting point is the paved area at the front of the building. Social distancing measures are to be complied with at all times.

Contact

If you have any queries please call 0191 232 9547.