Deadly weapons seized at airport

THESE are just some of the fearsome weapons seized by customs officials at the UK’s borders from holidaymakers who bizarrely thought they could bring them back into country as souvenirs.

The chilling collection of knives, knuckle dusters and imitation firearms were on display at Birmingham Airport on Thursday.

And UK Border Agency officers say most of the weapons are brought in to the country by unwitting Brits looking for unusual souvenirs.

But they risk prosecution by doing so.

Even if the items are brought in to the country innocently, passengers could fall foul of strict laws governing weapons possession.

Among the  deadly discoveries were butterfly knives,  police batons and a stungun disguised as a torch.

Many holidaymakers are caught out because the weapons are freely available to buy in foreign countries.

Items from Bulgaria and Turkey accounted for a large percentage of the 230 weapons seized since June.

And weapons purchased as souvenirs from market stalls in Eastern Mediterranean countries also featured in the bumper crop of offensive items.

But items from further  afield, such as a lethal-looking pair of machetes, had also been seized.

Alex Lawther,  assistant director for the UK Border Agency in the Midlands, said: “Most of these items are freely available on sale at the market in Bulgaria, Turkey, Cyprus and parts of the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Many people mistakenly think they can bring one home as a souvenir.

“Those caught trying to smuggle these dangerous weapons into the country or simply unaware of the controls in place should be warned that these weapons will be found and taken off them and they could face prosecution.”

Even if there is no criminal intent, Mr Lawther said that the deadly weapons could fall in to the wrong hands.

He said: “The weapons get more and more sophisticated, some of them are really vicious and could have terrible consequences.”

Mr Lawther said that weapons are often brought in by young people, unbeknownst to their parents.

He said: “A lot of the time when you find one it’s in an adolescent’s suitcase.

“They’re often surprised when we find it, but there has been the occasional argument with a parent who claims it’s just a souvenir.”

Confiscated weapons are either sent to a special warehouse to be disposed of, while some are put on display at the UKBA’s ‘Seized’ museum in Liverpool.

From 1 April 2010 until 31 March 2011, 2,477 offensive weapons were seized from people travelling through UK ports.