WE may never know the motives behind the attack that resulted in the windows of Helen Goodman’s constituency office in Bishop Auckland being broken on Saturday night.

Perhaps the episode was merely another example of the kind of anti-social behaviour that sadly blights so many of our towns on a weekend.

However, the fact that Ms Goodman believes the attack could have been Brexit-related is deeply worrying.

Ms Goodman, who has served as Bishop Auckland’s MP since 2005, has been subjected to an increasing amount of online abuse in the last few weeks, and fears Saturday’s vandalism is an escalation of the attacks.

No one is questioning the electorate’s right to hold their MP to account. Ms Goodman campaigned to remain in the EU, but a majority of her constituents voted to leave. It is therefore right that questions are asked about her decision to work with Tory MP Kenneth Clarke on a proposal to remain in a customs union.

However, there are no circumstances where abuse or threatening behaviour directed at an MP is acceptable, and there are certainly no scenarios where inflicting criminal damage on an MP’s constituency office would be a proportionate response to their actions in office.

We might question the decision-making of our elected representatives, but for our democracy to function, they have to be able to carry out their duties without fear of reprisal.

Sadly, there is mounting evidence that that is no longer the case.