MORE than 100 knives which were seized at Wigan Magistrates’ Court last year have been posted back to their owners.
Security guards have detected hundreds of banned items on people trying to enter the court building, in Darlington Street, including drugs, bottles and work tools.
But it has emerged that court officials have returned 109 blades, which are three inches or less, to their owners after they were confiscated in 2009/10.
A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Court Services (HMCS) admitted it posts smaller, legal knives back to their owners free of charge if they complete a short written application.
He said: “HMCS takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously and has a rigorous system in place, including mandatory bag searches, bag scanners, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, to ensure the safety of all court users.”
It is against the law to carry a knife with a blade of more than three inches long in public.
Illegal items, such as unlawful drugs, are not handed back and the police are contacted.
Knives and other banned items are seized by security staff, who guard metal detectors and use hand-held scanners to sweep defendants and visitors in search of weapons as they try to enter court buildings.
According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, security staff at Wigan Magistrates’ Court confiscated 109 knives from people entering the building in 2009/10. They were all later returned to their owners.
Since April, the court has seized a further nine knives.
A total of 97 drugs were stopped from being smuggled into court last year, with a further 35 drugs confiscated since April.
And 32 tools, including Stanley knives and bike tool kits, were taken off people entering the court in 2009/10.
Wigan Magistrates’ staff also seized nine chains, two razors and four pairs of scissors.
No firearms – genuine or replica – were found during security searches.
Other items which were confiscated included laptops, bottles, cans, cameras, mobile charges, hats, helmets, and a box of long screws.