Guns and knives seized at courts in Sunderland and Durham

Sunderland Magistrates Court.
Sunderland Magistrates Court.
Have your say

PEOPLE are trying to bring thousands of prohibited items into courts, figures show.

Court security workers seized 2,675 banned items from people attending courts in Sunderland, Peterlee and Durham over 12 months.

These included two guns confiscated by security staff at Durham Crown Court.

Knives, alcohol and tools were also found on visitors to Sunderland and Peterlee Magistrates’ Courts.

Other items banned within a court building are solvents and photographic, audio or video recording equipment, with the exception of mobile phones.

Figures released to the Echo by the Ministry of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the items were confiscated at the three Wearside courts between April 2013-2014.

These include two genuine firearms taken from people at Durham Crown Court in February and four knives with blades longer than three inches seized at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court in April this year.

Security guards also confiscated seven tools at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court in April last year.

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.

A large number of confiscated items were classed as ‘others’. These are any items, which in the opinion of the court security officers, could cause a hazard to others in the building or be used to disrupt court proceedings, which can include perfume and aerosols.

A spokeswoman for HM Courts & Tribunals Service said: “HM Courts & Tribunals Service 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.

“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.”