Revealed: Soaring number of knives seized at Edinburgh’s courts

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KNIVES and blades are being seized at Capital courts at the rate of more than six a day, the Evening News can reveal.

Visitors to Edinburgh Sheriff and High Courts have tried to take in thousands of potential weapons over the last two-and-a-half years.

Security staff with metal detectors confiscated 813 knives, razors and blades from January to June this year alone.

And since the beginning of 2015, 2,380 knives and blades were taken off visitors to Edinburgh Sheriff and High Courts.

Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs praised guards for their vigilance while court bosses assured security remains a priority.

“Courtrooms have to be absolutely secure, for the sake of workers, witnesses and victims,” said Mr Briggs.

“It’s therefore alarming that so many attempts have been made to smuggle in these dangerous items.

“Thankfully the security set-up in the city’s courts is excellent, meaning weapons can’t find their way in.

“But there absolutely has to be some kind of deterrent in place to make people think twice about what they try and bring to court.”

Screwdrivers, knitting needles and darts were among the stranger items found by metal detectors and security staff.

Also on the banned list are alcohol and drugs, with more than 1,000 bottles and cans of booze seized over the two-and-a-half years.

Drugs were found 28 times, while needles and syringes were discovered on more than 600 occasions.

Scissors, screwdrivers and other tools were brought to court 691 times over the two-and-half years.

There were also 20 laser pens found in 2015 and 2016 with numbers unknown for the first half of 2017 as the gadgets were no longer counted in a category on their own.

The total number of prohibited items seized from January to June this year was 3,030 - more than double the 1,461 for the whole of 2015 and more than a third higher than the 1,915 in 2016.

Reasons for the dramatic rise in the first six months of this year compared with previous years are unclear. But the method of recording confiscated items was changed from the start of 2017 with a focus on items that are “clearly prohibitive in nature and a danger to the public”.

Figures for the first half of this year also included 1,553 “miscellaneous” items which “are not inherently a danger to the public”.

A Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service spokesman said: “The SCTS takes the safety of all court users very seriously. We work closely with 
partners, including the police, to take all reasonable precautions against weapons being introduced into court buildings.

“Any item which is considered to be a potential risk to public safety could be confiscated on entering a court building.

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

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk