News and Events

Open letter to Thames Magistrates Court

Dear Sirs,


On Thursday 12 December 2019 I attended Thames Magistrates Court as an Advocate in order to cover two matters.


When I arrived at the court I needed to go to the toilet and I observed that there was a sign on the men’s toilets saying “out of order, go to disabled toilet”.


Of course the disabled toilet can only facilitate one user at a time.  When the toilet became free and I was able to use it, I found it in an absolutely disgusting condition.


I recognise there have been huge cuts at court, the burden and inconvenience of which are carried by many, including the staff at court.  I consider as a bare minimum those advocates working at court on a regular basis under difficult conditions should be entitled to appropriate and satisfactory toilet facilities.  I am not a Health & Safety expert, but I suspect that failure to provide such, is a breach of such regulations.


I have been coming to Thames to just under 30 years as an Advocate and have steadily observed a decline in conditions at court and the removal and reduction of facilities.


I accept and acknowledge that it is no fault of those like yourself who work very hard to run the court against the background of ever increasing cuts, and indeed I have never sought to complain before.   But quite frankly I do not consider that regular court users can be expected to work in such a deteriorated level.


Furthermore and perhaps more importantly there are many other court users, such as complainants, witnesses, defendants etc who may have to be at court all day who are entitled to basic standards such as reasonable toilet facilities. Their comfort must surely be a key component in enabling them to properly contribute to an effective justice system.


I recognise that this has only arisen because one of the toilets are out of order, but nevertheless I feel compelled and obliged to raise my experience in the form of an official complaint.


Yours sincerely,


Paul Harris