12:15, March 04 336 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-04 12:15:04
Shortcuts  Guilty! How Google Maps judges Britain’s courts

Getting barraged with bad reviews on a site such as TripAdvisor has become the bane of every restaurant owner’s existence – but the negative reviews culture has spread well beyond places to eat out.

Google’s recent decision to allow anyone to review any business building in the world has led to UK courts and police stations facing a flurry of reviews. The verdict? Mixed, to say the least.

Would-be visitors to the Thames magistrates court in east London – 1.8 ★ and 19 reviews – are warned to “beware of these magistrates and their advisers who withhold this knowledge from the community to mislead us”, are warned of “unprofessional service”, and told “they are all underqualified and useless, even the judges”.

Things get worse at Highbury magistrates court, with a 1.2 ★ average and 45 reviews that include: “My hardworking tax is being spent on giving people sex changes and aborting babies while law, access to justice and other essential components of our democracy are forever being further eroded”; and “Kafkaesque in the extreme”. Stratford’s court averages just 1.4 ★, thanks to “lifeless and unhelpful” staff and “very poor” service.

Westminster magistrates court has a few extra problems of its own, thanks to its recent ruling by chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot against Julian Assange’s appeal. “Chief ‘Justice’ Emma ‘Aaargh But Not’ decided to bodyline Julian Assange today,” says a one-star review. “She should lower her head in shame. This Assange thing is a total fraud.”

Outside of London, courts are picking up fewer reviews, and there’s even the odd good one. Courts in Bolton get mixed ratings, with one suffering a one-star “rubbish” review, but another getting a five-star: “Sitting in on the trials was a good day out, would do again for the laughs.”

Happily, not every building picking up unsolicited Google Maps reviews is getting pilloried. The Guardian offices have been reviewed by 61 people and have a respectable 4.4 ★ average. A three-star review remarks “good journalism and general nosey people”, a four-star says “work there”, while a five-star one praises the “modern design, spacious offices for the newspaper staff”.

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