Courts order 'sip test' to deter acid attacks.
Byline: wales news service email@example.com
PEOPLE taking bottles of water into court are being ordered to take sips to prove it is not acid - in a security crackdown in the wake of attacks.
Security staff at court buildings are carrying out the "sip test" checks to stop would-be attackers from throwing acid at judges, jurors or witnesses. Anyone bringing a drink to court buildings - including lawyers, journalists and staff members - must now take a sip from their bottle before being able to pass through security.
The Ministry of Justice clampdown is being enforced in court across Britain after a huge rise in the number of acid attacks.
The measure was introduced at Cardiff Crown Court this week leading to longer queues as security staff carried checks on unsealed bottles.
The Ministry of Justice said the checks were part of "enhanced security measures" being brought in across the court estate.
A security guard at Cardiff Crown Court said: "It would be very easy to conceal in a plastic bottle so when people come through and into the court we have to ask them to take a sip of their drink to prove that it isn't acid. The Ministry of Justice has issued us with the order.
"One family came into the court with a little boy who looked about three of four years old and was carrying a child's beaker.
"We had to ask the parents to take a sip of the drink to prove it wasn't acid, but it was the little boy who took the sip of the drink so we could allow them into the court."
One regular worker said: "I was having my bag searched while going into court last week and the guard held out my water bottle and asked me to take a sip to prove it's not acid.
"I thought they were joking. I asked 'Are you serious? I've been coming here every day'.
"But they wouldn't let me carry on until I took a sip so I didn't have much choice."
A spokesman for HM Courts & Tribunals Service - part of the Ministry of Justice - said the extra security checks at Cardiff follows guidance brought in to courts across the country this week.
An HM Courts & Tribunals Service spokesman said: "We take the safety and security of court users and staff extremely seriously, which is why we're bringing in enhanced safety measures across the court estate.
"We keep our security procedures under constant review, and will always take action where appropriate."