Family judges across England say they fear being attacked by angry or disturbed parents because security in court is often dangerously inadequate.Wow, a judge removes a man's child forever, and he complains about having to listen to an antisemitic slur while going to the loo, whatever that is. (Okay, that is a composite. A loo must be some sort of English slang for a toliet.)
It is rare for judges to raise their concerns publicly, but a number have taken the unusual step of speaking out to criticise security at the principal registry of the family division (PRFD) in central London, and also at district courts around the country.
In one incident, a female judge was seriously injured in an attack. Judges also told of parents shouting threats at them, as well as throwing books and cups.
"I have been threatened," one judge told the Guardian, speaking under condition of anonymity. "A very angry father stood up and shouted antisemitic threats at me. Another father threw a cup of water across the courtroom. Another parent threw a book, but fortunately I was too far away for it to reach me."
A second judge, also speaking anonymously, said of the PRFD: "I'm constantly, constantly exposed when I work there. There's no security in the courtroom. None. Sometimes we are in the courtroom alone with a parent. Most commonly, we sit with a clerk, who, in my experience, is always an elderly woman. If anything went wrong, believe you me, she would not be the one defending me.
"We shouldn't have to walk in the public corridors of a building where we have just removed someone's child for ever," the judge added. "At the PRFD, there are no private corridors for judges at all, which means we have to walk through public waiting areas and corridors when moving between courtrooms, entering and leaving the building. We can't even go to the loo without passing through a public area. I feel uncomfortable every time I have to do it. I'm very aware of the constant risk."
In Santa Cruz, the court security was installed after a family court shooting. They have never had a problem in the criminal court or other courts. Just the family court. Does that tell you something?
The solution here is not to install a new loo for judges and put it under armed guard. They should stop taking kids away.