DRUGS, knives and alcohol have all been regularly seized from suspects, witnesses and visitors turning up for court in Wigan.
Figures released under Freedom of Information rules reveal that between April 2013 and March this year, no fewer than 83 contraband items were discovered by security staff at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court.
Among items that defendants, witnesses and families tried to smuggle in were a knife with a blade longer than 3ins and 12 tools, which included Stanley knives and scissors.
Officials say it is chilling to think what might happen inside a court room or in a corridor if such dangerous items were seized.
A total of 30 bottles or cans of alcohol were also confiscated from bags.
Other banned items include five items of recording equipment and 14 cameras.
A total of 21 items deemed “miscellaneous” were confiscated, the bulk of which would consist of drugs, but also included items such as umbrellas, aerosols and cans of soft drink.
The number of contraband seizures had gone up significantly from 70 from the previous 12-month period.
The amount of unauthorised property is likely to be much higher as G4S, which is the court’s security team, did not log entries for four months in 2013/14 and seven months in 2012/13, meaning there is a gap in the information,
As a comparison, in 2011, under Mitie security team, there were 29 seizures of drugs, along with 23 tools including Stanley knives and 11 knives and 36 bottles and cans of alcohol.
Security staff also confiscated 23 cameras and 21 items with recording equipment.
A spokeswoman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said the items seized are those 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 the court proceedings.
She said: “HMCTS takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously and has a robust security and safety system to protect all court users and the Judiciary.
“This system includes mandatory bag searches, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, as well as court security officers who have legislative powers to protect all those in the court building.
“The powers of the court security officers include the ability to restrain and remove people from the building should there be a need.
“Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate and mitigates against the risks faced.”