This is how many knives and other weapons were seized at north east crown courts in 2018
12 knives were seized at a north east crown court last year, new figures have revealed.
The 12 knives were seized at Durham Crown Court in 2018, and increased from three in 2017.
There were 694 knives seized seized at crown courts across England last year, a 23% rise on the year before.
Among them were 55 knives with blades over three inches long, in breach of the legal limit for carrying in public.
A leading knife-crime awareness charity, The Ben Kinsella Trust, said the figures were “very worrying”.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service said anyone found with a serious weapon “will be restrained and the police will be called”.
There were 639 knives seized which had blades of less than three inches, as well as 110 bladed objects and 11 other weapons, a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed.
Small knives can be returned to their owner on written request.
At Durham Crown Court, 12 knives with bladers under three inches long were seized, along with one other unspecified weapon.
At Newcastle Crown Court, three bladed objects were confiscated last year. No knives were reported as being seized in either 2017 or 2018.
The MoJ had originally refused to reveal the figures, but was forced to do so after the JPIMedia Data Unit lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner.
And the true number of seizures may be much higher, as the information released by the MOJ did not include crown courts housed within combined court centres, such as those at Leeds, Derby or Bradford.
Patrick Green, chief executive of knife-crime awareness charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, said the figures were concerning.
"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,” he said.
“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.
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 spokesperson 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.”