Thugs attending West Midland courts have been caught trying to smuggle in a shocking array of weapons including guns, knives, and tools including screwdrivers, new figures reveal.
Security staff seized more than 51,000 items in just a two-year period, according to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
The totals are for Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stafford Crown Courts, and Birmingham, Warley, Solihull, Dudley, Walsall, Sutton Coldfield and Redditch Magistrates’ Courts.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information act by the Birmingham Post revealed that at Birmingham Crown Court alone 19,641 prohibited objects were seized.
These included two genuine firearms, five replica guns, three fixed blade knives, 160 with blades longer than three inches and 410 with blades smaller than three inches.
Also seized at the city’s Crown Court were 661 tools, 785 cameras, 444 sound or video recorders, and 165 alcoholic drinks.
They were also 17,006 other items which could be used as a weapon or to disrupt court proceedings, such as umbrellas and aerosols,.
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), which released the data for January 2009 to December 2010 under the Freedom of Information Act, said it takes the issue of security within courts “extremely seriously”.
A spokesman added: “There is a rigorous system in place, including mandatory bag searches, bag scanners, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, to ensure the safety of all court users.”
He said that police would be called if anyone was caught trying to enter a court building with a gun or knife with a blade of more than three inches.
In the case of knives that have a blade shorter than three inches, the owner is given 28 days to apply to the court to reclaim it. If the court considers that the knife was lawfully held then the owner can reclaim the item.
At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court the haul included one replica firearm, six fixed blade knives, 33 with a bigger than three-inch blade, 196 with a smaller than three inch blade, 938 tools, and 290 alcoholic drinks from an overall total of 18,502 items taken.
The next worst is Wolverhampton Crown Court, where the total of 6,630 seized items included 208 knives, 268 tools and 77 alcoholic drinks.
Sally Benton, head of policy at crime reduction charity Nacro, said the fact that items were being seized at youth court shows work needs to be done to address the behaviour of young people.
She added: “At Nacro we take violent crime very seriously, but this is an issue which requires an intelligent response.
“Simply locking up these young people won’t end the cycle of offending, in many cases it will just delay the next offence. Courts around the country need to have the ability to refer young offenders to intensive and targeted intervention programmes which challenge young people and get them to take responsibility for their actions and look for positive solutions to address their problems.
“It also means investing in measures which get in there early and target the most at risk young people in order to steer them away from crime. By the time they go out on the streets to cause trouble it can often be too late.”