EXCLUSIVE: Knives in court shock

Figures reveal catalogue of weapons confiscated on way into Blackpool Magistrates Court (below).
Figures reveal catalogue of weapons confiscated on way into Blackpool Magistrates Court (below).

A catalogue of knives, needles and alcohol have been discovered on people trying to smuggle them into Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

In the past year alone 665 items have been confiscated from people visiting the busy courts, including around 50 knives, five fixed blade weapons and 325 alcoholic drinks, official figures show.

Blackpool Magistrates Court

Blackpool Magistrates Court

And one substance abuse counsellor believes the true picture may be much starker, claiming illegal drugs could also be brought into the building.

Defence solicitor Trevor Colebourne, who works at the magistrates court, puts the figures down to ignorance of people going to hearings.

He said: “One of the issues with people attending the court is the ignorance in not realising what they can and cannot take in.

“I have seen security take a little pen knife key ring.

“I can’t say I’m surprised by the figures at all.

“Unfortunately a lot of the people that frequent the courts have a drink problem.

“A lot will bring drinks to quell their nerves.”

But fellow defence solicitor Gary Mcanulty said: “I’m surprised, you wouldn’t think clients were that stupid to bring them in but there’s an awful lot of knife crime about.

“I didn’t know it was a problem but anybody carrying knives is a problem.”

A total of 52 bladed articles – five fixed blade knives, 26 knives more than three inches long and 21 knives with blades less than three inches long –were confiscated by security staff between February 2012 and March this year.

Those working in the courts have said they have also seen drugs paraphernalia, including needles, seized.

Mr Colebourne added: “Lots of people bring needles in, and I don’t mean insulin needles. There are a high proportion who have drug problems.

“It is a difficult operation for security.”

In the worst month for alcohol being discovered, November 2012, 53 alcoholic beverages were confiscated by G4S, the security firm employed at the court.

However, no criminal proceedings have been brought as a result of items confiscated.

Matthew Pauls, from HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), said: “It is for the police to decide on what action is taken against an individual where the items surrendered or seized are referred to the police.

“HMCTS takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously.”

Steve Pope, a drug and alcohol counsellor in the resort, said the alcohol being confiscated at the court shows more help needs to be given to people arrested for crimes.

He said: “I would think that’s the tip of the iceberg. They might have balloons (filled with drugs) tied to their back teeth and in their stomach if they’re to get a custodial sentence.”

A G4S spokesman said: “These figures show how successful our staff have been at preventing prohibited items from being brought to court.”

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