MORE than 1200 people have been caught trying to bring knives into Edinburgh Sheriff Court over the last three years, new figures revealed today.
Security guards have seized Stanley knives, lock knives and pocket knives from accused criminals and visitors entering the Chambers Street building.
Other items confiscated by security personnel at the court between 2009 and last year included seven hammers, 42 darts, 112 screwdrivers, and 263 razor blades.
The potentially dangerous items were confiscated from people passing through the airport-style metal detectors stationed at the court building’s entrance.
The volume of offensive weapons seized was today branded “incredible” – and prompted calls for tough action against anyone caught bringing a knife into the city court.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont was amazed people could be so stupid as to attempt to get dangerous items into the court.
He said: “This is an incredible amount of confiscations for a premises where you would think absolutely everyone would understand you cannot bring a weapon. Clearly that message isn’t getting through or, if it is, it’s not being taken seriously.
“Those caught trying to get knives into court should be dealt with in the most severe way possible, to leave them in no uncertainty about the gravity of the offence.
“This also raises concerns about what people are smuggling into those sheriff courts which don’t have door security.”
The number of knives being brought to court has fallen over the last three years, from 483 in 2009 to 391 the following year and 358 in 2011.
But the amount of alcohol confiscated by security staff increased last year, up from 260 seizures to 330. Drug seizures also rose, from none in 2010 to five last year.
The confiscation figures, released under freedom of information laws, reveal a wide range of unusual but potentially deadly, items being brought to court.
The list includes 17 knitting needles, 17 steel combs and 354 pairs of scissors. Meanwhile, syringes were seized on 239 occasions and 19 laser pens were also taken off individuals.
Court chiefs said that security at the building was taken “very seriously” with “airline-type” portals used to detect weapons.
A Scottish Court Service spokesman said: “The Scottish Court Service takes the security of all court users very seriously and there are security personnel and procedures in place at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. As court proceedings are generally conducted in public, courts are considered public buildings.”
Anyone caught trying to take a weapon into the court buildings is immediately reported to the team of police officers on daily duty inside.