Our new shiny Civil Justice Centre AND Magistrates court appear to have been smashed up on two consecutive nights this week. I understand from local radio the Bristol Mags suffered some smashing and graffiti (“FIGHT BACK”), and the BBC reports that hammers were used and that the attack was carried out by 2 men dressed in black. I also told that on the following night Bristol Civil Justice Centre was attacked with a catapult and stones. About half a dozen 10 ft high panes along the front of the new building are shattered and awaiting replacement in what must have been quite a deliberate attack. Both courts have CCTV outside, as you might expect. Based on that information it sounds as if the attacks were premeditated and reasonably well planned – tools taken, identity hidden etc.
It seems a reasonable guess that both attacks were carried out by the same people or group (although the second could have been a copycat). Of course the only category of case which is routinely dealt with in both the Magistrates AND the County Court is family work. And in Bristol the FPC often sits in the County Court building, and the County Court often deals with family cases in the Magistrates court when it has need of the cells (when a party is a prisoner). IF the attacks are connected, an obvious question is whether or not the person(s) responsible are aggrieved at the family courts? That would be my guess. My second guess would be that we have to expect more of this in the brave new world without legal aid, as more and more people are likely to be left having either suffered an injustice or feeling that they have so suffered.