Glasgow’s new Remote Jury Centre opens next week

Oct 09, 2020

Glasgow High Court trials get underway from Tuesday 13 October with juries located in the new Remote Jury Centre at Braehead, Renfrewshire.

Edinburgh’s centre has been up and running since 29 September, able to accommodate five juries supporting High Courts in Lothian.

There are 11 jury rooms in the cinema-based centre in Glasgow, each able to comfortably accommodate 15 physically distanced jurors, and offering state-of-the-art, secure technology to connect with the courtroom where cases are heard.

These centres are the first remote centres in the UK and an announcement last week set out that this model will be rolled out to allow sheriff and jury trials, suspended due to COVID-19, to recommence in November

Remote Jury Centres were instigated by the Restarting Solemn Trials Working Group, chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, and made up of representatives from across the justice sector. The Group recommended to the Lord President, Lord Carloway, that remote jury centres outwith court buildings would allow High Court trials to operate at pre-COVID-19 business levels.

Cinemas were chosen because they can provide, in a single building, a number of spacious and soundproofed auditoria, combined with state-of-the-art, secure technology. The courts have exclusive access to the jury centre Monday to Friday. Courtrooms have been fitted out with the cameras and technology necessary to broadcast the trials to the screens and to receive the video wall of jurors into the courtroom.

How it works

Balloting the jury will be done in the courtroom in advance without the jurors being present. Only the 15 jurors balloted, plus a small number of substitutes, will arrive at the jury centre for the trial. Each jury will be supported by a court officer, and each remote jury room will be supported by technical specialists to ensure continuity of proceedings.

In line with Government guidance, and following detailed risk assessments, numerous safety measures are in place. These will include:

  • as with all SCTS buildings, face coverings to be worn in public areas
  • sanitising stations placed at entry and exit points
  • systems to manage the flow of people such as floor and  wall markings, and public seating marked for use, sealed off, or removed
  • advice to those entering or leaving the jury room to avoid cross-traffic

In addition to floor markings, there are posters throughout the centre reminding jurors and staff to both observe physical distancing, and wash hands regularly. Additional cleaning measures will be carried out throughout the day. The jury centre ventilation systems use air handling units to extract stale air and replace it with a supply of clean, fresh and filtered air. 

Catering facilities 

Jurors will be provided with packed sandwiches, individual bottles of water, and servings of tea or coffee each day.

Technology in the future

Plans to increase the use of technology were established well before the current Coronavirus situation. The courts were already using video access for custody links,and capturing evidence by video before a trial takes place in order to prevent children and vulnerable people from having to attend court. The courts have continued to use and extend this technology to enable virtual hearings in a range of different types of case.

Other business

Since lockdown began, business has incrementally moved into virtual courts including civil and criminal appeal hearings, Court of Session hearings, personal injury cases, a range of sheriff court civil and appeal cases, and virtual summary criminal Remote Jury Centre Announcement.


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