March 4 2015 Latest news:
Monday, April 28, 2014
Security guards have seized almost 2,500 banned items, including 180 knives, from people attending Norfolk’s courts over the past two years.
In the past two years, a total of 2,463 forbidden items were taken from people at Norwich Crown Court, Norwich Magistrates’ Court and Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court, according to figures obtained using the Freedom Of Information Act.
Among the weapons seized were 183 knives with blades smaller than three inches, along with four knives described as having ‘fixed blades’.
It is illegal to carry any sharp or bladed instrument in a public place, with the exception of a folded pocket knife with a blade of less than three inches. However even those smaller knives are banned from court.
Security guards also confiscated more than 250 tools from people heading into the courts, with metal detectors and bag searches used to find prohibited items.
Other items banned within a court building are firearms, alcohol, solvents and photographic, audio or video recording equipment, with the exception of mobile phones.
No firearms were seized in Norfolk’s courts in the past two years, although in 2010 a firearm was confiscated at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court and replica guns at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court and at Thetford Magistrates’ Court in 2011.
Cameras were confiscated 205 times and alcohol was taken on 468 occasions.
Court security staff can also seize other objects which they consider could be used as weapons, cause a hazard to others in court or be used to disrupt court proceedings.
Umbrellas, aerosols and soft drinks cans were among 1,317 such items which were confiscated.
A spokeswoman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), said: “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. The system includes mandatory bag searches, the use of metal detectors and surveillance cameras.
“Court security officers 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. Our security system is continually monitored to ensure it is effective and proportionate and mitigates the risks faced.”
Do you have a crime story? Call crime correspondent Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org