More than 800 weapons and blades have been seized from people entering crown courts across England, an exclusive investigation by JPI Media has revealed.
The findings which reveal 815 weapons - 694 of which were knives - were seized from the crown courts during 2018, have been described as "very worrying" by The Ben Kinsella Trust, which educates young people on the dangers of knife crime.
The number of knives seized in 2018 rose by 23 per cent, compared to the 563 seized the previous year.
Among the 694 knives seized, 55 had blades that were over three inches long and therefore in breach of the legal limit for carrying in public.
The figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have also revealed the top 10 crown court buildings with the most weapons seized - this however excludes crown courts housed within combined court centres, such as those at Leeds, Derby or Bradford as the MOJ did not provide that information.
York Crown Court was ranked the fourth highest, with 58 weapons seized in 2018. The crown courts with more weapons seized than the Yorkshire court included Winchester with 95, followed by Taunton 87 and Harrow 59.
Read more: The Sharp Edge: A Yorkshire Post investigation into the devastating impact of knife crime in Yorkshire
The MoJ had originally refused to reveal all the figures, but was forced to do so after the JPIMedia Data Unit lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner.
Patrick Green, chief executive of knife-crime awareness charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, said: "With England in the grip of a knife crime epidemic it is very worrying to see that even our courts are not immune from this scourge.
“It is concerning that some people feel the need to intentionally bring a knife to court even when they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be caught.
“This illustrates how normalised knife carrying can become. It highlights that more needs to be done to remove knives and those who carry them are removed from our streets.”
Anyone entering a court building in England must go through security gates where staff search bags and use metal detectors to find and seize dangerous objects.
But questions have been raised over the effectiveness of these searches.
Read more: Yorkshire's victims of knife crime
In April this year, a man died after dousing himself with acid while in the dock at the Inner London Crown Court.
Marc Marshall, 55, poured a noxious substance onto his face shortly after being sentenced for fraud offences. The incident sparked a review of court security measures.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service said its security system is continually monitored and those who enter court and tribunals are subject to mandatory searches each time.
A spokesman said: “With stringent security measures now in place, including mandatory bag checks and metal detectors, finds of large knives have fallen by over 90% in the past five years.
“Inevitably, we are also confiscating more everyday items like nail scissors and cutlery that people keep in their bags.
“Anyone found with a serious weapon will be restrained and the police will be called.”