Readers of a sensitive disposition may wish to click on another article, but if you have a strong stomach read on. Obiter can reveal that at least some good has come from the coronavirus outbreak – it has called attention to the shocking state of toilets in the justice system. 

A sample of the reports seen last week: 

Family barrister Lucy Reed said of the ladies’ at Barnet County Court: ‘No paper hand towels. Walls and floor grimy with brown drips, and standing dirty water in one blocked sink.’ 

Kent criminal defence solicitor Robin Murray lamented: ‘At [HMP] Medway yesterday the bin was overflowing with paper towels. I wanted to put a paper towel or two into the bin but there was just a pile of paper on top of the lid and I wasn’t going to touch that. No one seems to be keeping an eye on these things, which require a constant patrol.’

The Secret Barrister said a court they were at last week ‘had puddles of toilet fluid all over the floor, spreading across all cubicles. The soap dispenser was empty all week. The water was icy cold’.

HMCTS chief executive Susan Acland-Hood says she is on the case: ‘I’ve also asked our cleaners to give this extra attention. This includes more checking of bathrooms, handwashing facilities and bins.’ 

Is this working? Send updates (with photos, if you can bear it) to