It seems strange to think what people might take with them when they appear in Court. Nothing incriminating would seem to be a good choice, but perhaps not so in Swansea.
Security staff at courts in Swansea have seized dozens of knives and other potentially offensive weapons in recent years, the South Wales Evening Post has learned.
Hoards of knives, some with blades of more than three inches, and scores of ‘sharps’ were confiscated at the city’s Magistrates and Crown Court buildings in recent years.
Responding to a freedom of information request, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said that since April 2013 security staff have seized ten knives with a blade measuring longer than three inches. A total of 73 knives with a blade less than three inches were confiscated while staff collected a starting 364 ‘sharps’ up until November this year.
Sharps are classed as items that can injure people but are not defined as knives or tools. HMCTS says examples of confiscated sharps include syringes, knitting needles, darts and even corkscrews.
Worryingly the numbers of items seized appears to be on the increase. In 2013/14 security officers confiscated one large knife and 22 small ones. However, in 2014/15 they collected eight large knives and 20 smaller ones. Since April this year a further large knife has been seized while 31 short-bladed knives were confiscated. By far the largest seizure came in January this year, when officers at Swansea Magistrates’ Court confiscated 20 sharp items. Previously, in October 2014 they had collected five large knives.
The figures cover Swansea’s Grove Place Magistrates’ Court and the city’s two Crown Court sites at St Helen’s Road and the Guildhall.
A HMTCS spokesman said: “HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously and has a robust security and safety system in place 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.
“Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate and mitigates against the risks faced.”