Thousands of knives are confiscated every year, the head of the court service revealed, defending court security checks that barristers have branded intrusive. 

Susan Acland-Hood, the Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) told delegates at the Bar Council’s annual conference in London that 8,000 knives had been confiscated in 2017 and that 5,000 had already been removed this year, though she accepted that they had not been removed from barristers.

She spoke the day after confirming via social media site Twitter that a security guard working at court in Bromley had been suspended by his employer after asking a female barrister to ‘spread your legs’ during a security check, after she refused to empty her bag.

The incident happened on the day that HMCTS announced that the trial of an ID scheme to enable lawyers to get into courts without undergoing security checks would be extended to five more court centres.

Since August, courts in Brighton, Maidstone, Southwark, Tameside and Wood Green have piloted the use of the app developed at the cost of £50,000 by the Bar Council, which allows barristers to enter using a digital ID card on their phone.

The scheme has been extended to courts in Chester, Nottingham, Portsmouth, St Albans and Swansea.