Thousands of knives seized in Scottish courts

Some 3,221 knives and 1,759 syringes were taken from people upon entering Scotland's courts between Jan 2012 and Oct 2014. Picture: Hemedia

Some 3,221 knives and 1,759 syringes were taken from people upon entering Scotland's courts between Jan 2012 and Oct 2014. Picture: Hemedia

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Shocking new figures have revealed that thousands of KNIVES and NEEDLES have been seized by security guards at Scottish courts in the last three years.

Figures, obtained through Freedom of Information legislation, show that some 3,221 knives and 1,759 syringes were taken from people upon entering Scotland’s courts between January 2012 and October 2014.

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Alcohol was the most common prohibited item seized, accounting for 3,540 cases in the three-year period.

But large numbers of consumer products like razors, DVD players, hair straighteners and even computer games consoles were also taken.

Tory justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP said: “It is deeply worrying that people would even think to bring in these items.

“It shows a total lack of respect for the stature of the courts.

“Going into court should be a solemn, almost fearful, experience but these people are showing a very casual attitude if they are bringing deadly weapons and drugs with them.

“Thankfully these items have been confiscated before the person gets inside a court.

“If you carry a deadly weapon the likelihood is that you’ll use it and in the charged atmosphere of a court anything could happen.”

Scottish Courts are divided into those with a permanent security presence and those with mobile security.

All guards are contracted from private firm Advance Security.

Other shocking stats show that since January 2012 court security staff have also seized:

• 220 Dictaphones

• Four DVD players

• Seven computer games consoles

• 373 hair straighteners

• 32 musical instruments

• 1,280 razors or razor blades

• And a bayonet from someone entering Edinburgh Sherriff Court this year.

Dr Paul Arnell, an expert in Public International Law, Legal Systems, Human Rights and Constitutional Law, at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said carrying a knife or syringe was “as natural as a smoker carrying cigarettes” for some offenders

He said: “A factor in the findings may be that a significant number of people going to court are going to attend a criminal trial.

“There is a certain segment of society that are in court time and again and they think nothing of carrying a knife or drugs.

“It can be hard for people to imagine but there are people who would never consider leaving their home without taking these items with them.

“In a sense it is surprising that people, especially those who have been to court before, would consider taking something like this in with them.

“But for many of them it’s no more unusual than a smoker carrying cigarettes and a lighter.”

Dr Arnell added that there could be two explanations for people bringing consumer items.

He said: “Either they expect to be imprisoned and be able to bring these items to prison with them.

“Or, like many people attending court, they have no fixed address and carry their prized possessions about with them regularly anyway.

“It’s shocking to think of them bringing these things in. But if you go to any airport you can see that they still seize sizeable numbers of items that have been banned for years.”

A spokeswoman from the Scottish Court Service said that illegal items would be handed to the police while legal ones were given back to the person or a relative if they were imprisoned.

She said: “Courts sit within public buildings and the Scottish Court Service takes the safety of all court users very seriously.

“The Scottish Court Service works closely with partners, including the police, to take all reasonable precautions against weapons being introduced into court buildings.

“The discovery of any weapon or potential weapon by staff is immediately reported to police.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “These figures are the result of robust security procedures in place by the Scottish Court Service to protect all court users and appropriate action will be taken by the police against any individual caught carrying a weapon.

“Latest statistics show that crimes of handling an offensive weapon have reduced by 62 per cent in Scotland since 2006-07, recorded crime in is now at its lowest level for 40 years and violent crime is down 10 per cent, backed by over 1,000 extra police officers out protecting the public and keeping communities safe.”

Advance Security declined to comment on the findings.

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