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Knives, tools and alcohol all confiscated from people trying to enter courts across the West Midlands

By Heather Large | Crime | Published:

Hundreds of knives, tools and sharp implements have been confiscated from people entering courts in the Black Country and Staffordshire in the past year.

Security staff also seized replica firearms, alcoholic drinks, cameras and recording devices, the HM Courts & Tribunals Service statistics show.

In total 83 knives were taken from people going through the doors of Wolverhampton’s magistrates’ and crown courts, Stafford Crown Court and Walsall, Dudley, Cannock and Kidderminster magistrates’ courts.

Also, handed over to staff at Stafford and Walsall were two replica firearms.

The figures show that 219 ‘sharps’ such as needles and scissors were also confiscated along with 267 work tools which could include hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and nails.

Security staff also made sure 368 alcoholic drinks didn’t enter the building along with 90 cameras and 49 recording devices.

There were also more than 13,650 other items, which could include umbrellas, aerosols and soft drinks cans, confiscated from court buildings during the period between October 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017.

The number of knives has fallen compared with with the previous year when 125 were confiscated.

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A breakdown of the confiscated items

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris has campaigned for tougher sentencing for knife-related crimes.

He said: “This year we have seen a reduction in the number of knives which have been confiscated in our local courts.

“However, there are worrying signs that the prevalence of knife possession is on the rise.

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“That’s why, building on our work of restricting possession in public, we will be making it illegal to possess certain dangerous weapons in private, and restricting the sale of knives online to under 18s.

“I will be keeping a close eye on the Government’s new Serious Violence Strategy to be published in the new year and work to see a reduction of knives on our streets.”

James Morris

Security staff will seize items if they believe they may jeopardise the maintenance of order in the court building or put the safety of any person at risk.

A spokesman said: “HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously and has a robust security and safety system to protect all court users and the judiciary.

“This system includes mandatory bag searches, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, as well as court security officers who have legislative powers to protect all those in the court building.

“The powers of the court security officers include the ability to restrain and remove people from the building should there be a need. HMCTS has a robust security and safety system to protect all court users and the judiciary.

“The system includes mandatory bag searches, the use of modern security searching equipment and surveillance cameras, as well as Court Security Officers (CSO) with the powers to restrain and remove people from the building should there be a need.

“Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate, and mitigates against the risks faced.

“Under section 54 of the Courts Act 2003 a CSO must, if they reasonably believe an article ought to be surrendered, request its surrender. If it is not surrendered, it may be seized. A notice detailing items deemed to be prohibited is displayed in the court entrance area.”

Of the 125 knives seized during the previous 12 months, security staff at Wolverhampton’s two courts stopped people from carrying in 56 knives. The majority of the knives had blades measuring up to three inches but there were also a dozen which were longer.

Elsewhere 50 knives were confiscated at Walsall Magistrates’ Court, 11 at Stafford combined court, seven at Sandwell Magistrates’ Court and one at Dudley Magistrates’ Court, according to the figures released under a Freedom of Information request.

All of the blades were seized between October 2015 and September 2016.

As well as knives, security staff seized hundreds of tools, dozens of needles and syringes, bottles of alcohol, cameras and recorders.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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