Banned items seized at court

Royal arms on the magistrates court building, Pontefract.'p2360d026'y5CivicComp
Royal arms on the magistrates court building, Pontefract.'p2360d026'y5CivicComp

KNIVES, booze and tools were among almost 200 banned items seized on the doors of Pontefract Magistrates’ Court in a year.

Figures revealed to the Express under the Freedom of Information Act show security staff confiscated 193 items from visitors at the Front Street court between May 2010 and July 2011 – including 12 knives with blades longer than three inches, two smaller knives and 11 tools.

Court officials also found 44 alcoholic drinks, 12 cameras and two recording devices during bag searches. It is illegal to tape or photograph court proceedings.

There were no recorded instances where firearms or imitation firearms were seized.

A Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) spokeswoman said: “HMCTS takes the issue of security within court extremely seriously and has a rigorous system in place, including mandatory bag searches, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, to ensure the safety of all court users.”

The information, provided to the court by the security company responsible for searches, also showed 110 “other items” were confiscated on the doors during the same period.

The spokeswoman added: “These are items which, in the opinion of the court security officer, could be used as a weapon, cause a hazard to others in the building or be used to disrupt court proceedings.

“Items have including umbrellas, aerosols and soft drinks cans – although this list is not exhaustive”.

Confiscated items can be returned to their owner on writing to the court within 28 days, but illegal items, including knives of three inches or more in length, are withheld and passed to the police along with the owners’ details.