SECURITY guards seized 11 knives from people attending Southend’s courts in one year.

They were among 77 forbidden items taken from people attending Southend Crown and Magistrates’ Court between February 2012 - February 2013.

The haul of knives, which blades smaller than 3 ins, was revealed in figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1925 it is illegal to take any photographs or recordings in court.

Nevertheless, as well as the weapons, 57 cameras were confiscated by staff in the period and six recording devices.

The recorders were returned to their owners on their way out of the building. Court service procedures state that small knives can be returned to their owners if they are legal to own and written permission is sought. The court services didn’t reveal if any of the confiscated knives were eventually returned.

They are destroyed if they are not returned.

One container of alcohol was also taken from a member of the public in March 2012, at the Victoria Avenue building.

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCTS) 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.

“The powers of the court security officers include the ability to restrain and remove people from the building should there be a need.”

He added: “Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate and mitigates against the risks faced.”

One other, unspecified, item was also confiscated from a member of the public in February of this year.

As previously reported in the Echo, no Crown Court hearings have been held at the building since March.