The coronavirus lockdown has affected all aspects of life in the UK. It’s meant that processes that are essential for the country’s smooth functioning have been disrupted. Take the judiciary, for instance. Many buildings in the courts and tribunals service were shuttered during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a backlog of cases, courts and tribunals are keen to resume face-to-face hearings where possible. In this blog, we’re going to look at how these premises are getting back to work. Our experience with custodial centre cleaning can provide a valuable service for courts and tribunals looking to reopen.
Courts and tribunals operating with public safety in mind
The HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals across England and Wales. Early on in the pandemic response, it split its court buildings into three categories: open, staffed and suspended courts. Open courts are accessible to the public for essential face-to-face hearings. In staffed courts, judges and other staff work from these buildings, but they are not open to the public. Suspended courts are those which are temporarily closed. As in other sectors, some restrictions were lifted from mid-May. For example, jury trials have restarted, albeit with new arrangements to keep jurors and other participants safe – including new cleaning protocols.
Meanwhile, HMCTS consolidated the work of courts and tribunals into fewer buildings, to maintain safety in line with public health advice. HMCTS has been working to keep the public informed on its progress in reopening courts as quickly as possible to maintain public safety. It provides a tracker list of where court buildings fit into these three categories.
Preparing and maintaining courts and tribunals getting back to work
We can be at the forefront of allowing courts and tribunals to reopen safely. Our clients place their trust in our simple methodology of ‘test, clean, disinfect and test again’. We swab and test a number of high-touch areas for traces of pathogen. The results of testing will determine what cleaning method needs to be applied prior to colleagues returning to work. If testing comes back negative, this could be a spring-clean approach, wiping down and sanitising all surfaces and high-touch areas. Alternatively, if there are any residual pathogens, it may require a more thorough deep clean and decontamination. This approach based on scientific evidence is likely to save both time and money, and it will ultimately be more effective.
Courts and tribunals may adapt their existing cleaning arrangements using their current cleaning contractor. We can provide advice to help with this process, recognising that most cleaning companies do not have the in-depth skill and experience which React has developed as a hygiene and decontamination specialist. Our methodology ensures that cleaning and disinfection are two parts of the same process. This means we’re able to avoid leaving residues that could lead to health risks of another kind, such as skin irritation or damage to clothing, if used long-term.
First response cleaning in the event of known contamination
In the event that a confirmed Covid-19 case is identified, it’s vital for courts and tribunals to put in place an infection control protocol immediately. As part of this protocol, we recommend courts and tribunals have immediately on call a trusted resource to perform a suitable deep clean and decontamination of the areas potentially infected. React are on call 24/7/365 to respond to such incidents nationwide. We can put in place a pre-agreed response process.
We respond with the latest technology for fighting this challenge. We initially test an area to understand the levels of exposure to pathogens. We then clean and disinfect with the most appropriate equipment and chemicals for the property. Finally, we test again to be certain the pathogen has been inactivated and removed. The choice of methodology and materials is important. React deploys the correct method and equipment for each specific task. Generally, for courts and tribunals, our preferred method would likely be Ultra Low Volume ‘fogging’ (ULV).
Receive our free factsheet
We’re here to work with the courts and tribunal service, as well as the broader justice sector, to allow a return to more normal working practices. But whatever your organisation does, you can find out more about tackling the virus with our free SARS-CoV-2 Fact Sheet. We bust some social media myths about the virus and tackle misinformation head-on – as well as providing some useful do’s and don’ts. Register to download the fact sheet for free.
Contact one of the team today to find out how our regular deep cleaning and first response decontamination can help courts and tribunals in England and Wales get back to work.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the CEO of React Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.