Exclusive: More than 50 weapons seized at York Crown Court last year

Hundreds of dangerous weapons were seized at crown courts across England last year, including more than 50 illegal knives, it can be revealed.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 6:00 pm

According to figures collected by JPI Media’s Data team, York Crown Court - which tries cases from all of North Yorkshire including Harrogate - seized a total of 58 weapons in 2018, 18 of which were knives.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, the amount of weapons seized rose by 243 per cent from 2017 and 2018.

A leading knife-crime awareness charity, The Ben Kinsella Trust, said the figures were “very worrying”.

York Crown Court. Picture by JPI Media

HM Courts & Tribunals Service said anyone found with a serious weapon “will be restrained and the police will be called”.

Hundreds of knives seized

There were 694 knives seized at crown courts last year, a 23% rise on the year before.

Among them were 55 knives with blades over three inches long, in breach of the legal limit for carrying in public.

Graphic showing the trends the figures reveal.

There were 639 knives seized which had blades of less than three inches, as well as 110 bladed objects and 11 other weapons, a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed.

Small knives can be returned to their owner on written request.

Winchester Crown Court had the most weapons seized in 2018, with 95 confiscations.

The MoJ had originally refused to reveal the figures, but was forced to do so after the JPIMedia Data Unit lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner.

File photo. Shutterstock

And the true number of seizures may be much higher, as the information released by the MOJ did not include crown courts housed within combined court centres, such as those at Leeds, Derby or Bradford.

‘More needs to be done’

Patrick Green, chief executive of knife-crime awareness charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, said the figures were concerning.

"With England in the grip of a knife crime epidemic it is very worrying to see that even our courts are not immune from this scourge,” he said.

“It is concerning that some people feel the need to intentionally bring a knife to court even when they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be caught.

“This illustrates how normalised knife carrying can become. It highlights that more needs to be done to remove knives and those who carry them are removed from our streets.”

‘Stringent security measures’

Anyone entering a court building in England must go through security gates where staff search bags and use metal detectors to find and seize dangerous objects.

But questions have been raised over the effectiveness of these searches.

In April this year, a man died after dousing himself with acid while in the dock at the Inner London Crown Court.

Marc Marshall, 55, poured a noxious substance onto his face shortly after being sentenced for fraud offences. The incident sparked a review of court security measures.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service said its security system is continually monitored and those who enter court and tribunals are subject to mandatory searches each time.

A spokesperson said: “With stringent security measures now in place, including mandatory bag checks and metal detectors, finds of large knives have fallen by over 90% in the past five years.

“Inevitably, we are also confiscating more everyday items like nail scissors and cutlery that people keep in their bags.

“Anyone found with a serious weapon will be restrained and the police will be called.”