Knives and drugs confiscated from Northamptonshire courts

editorial image

An astonishing 110 knives were among the items seized from the county’s courts this year.

A Freedom of Information request by this newspaper to the Ministry of Justice revealed a breakdown of everything seized at the entrance of Northampton Combined Court, Northampton Magistrates’ Court and Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court in 2018.

A total of 11,822 items were taken by security staff, with liquids the most common item.

Worryingly 110 knives were seized across the three courts, with 14 having a blade longer than 3in.

No guns were seized although one item classed as a firearm, such as CS gas or a Tazer, was taken at Northampton Magistrates’ Court.

A total of 40 other weapons, such as knuckledusters, were seized across the courts, with 28 instances where drugs were confiscated and police informed.

Staff also confiscated 688 sharps, 84 glass bottles, 332 tools and 47 items of cutlery.

Taking pictures or recording at court is a criminal offence with 29 cameras and six recording devices also seized.

At the stranger end of the spectrum court staff also seized 42 classic large umbrellas and 22 motorcycle helmets, on the grounds that they can be used as a “dangerous weapon to inflict significant injury to others”.

One item classed as protest material - which was a banner, poster, klaxon or loudhailer - was also confiscated.

A Government spokesman said: “Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (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.”