The president of the family division has given a shocking insight into the scale of the UK's knife crime epidemic, revealing that court security seized 473 knives with blades over three inches long at a London court this year.

Delivering the Nicholas Wall Memorial Lecture yesterday, Sir Andrew McFarlane said an additional 230 knives were found in the precincts immediately outside Central Family Court in Holborn, central London.

McFarlane said: 'We do not believe that most, indeed any, of these knives were necessarily being brought in for use in the court building. It simply seems to be a facet of everyday life in 2019 for some members of the population to carry a weapon with them at all times.'

The shocking figures come in the same week that HM Courts & Tribunals Service published court security guidance to help inform people of what to expect when they enter a court building. Lawyers have previously reported numerous examples of overzealous security measures.

The theme of McFarlane's lecture was the 1989 Children Act, three decades on.

The family law chief praised local authorities and the family court for taking action under the act to protect vulnerable young people caught up in the gang culture or running 'county lines'.

He said: 'In the past some such young people may have found themselves before a criminal court. Now, not infrequently, young teenagers in such circumstances, who are seen as victims and in need of protection, are brought, by local authority social services, before the family court where an application is made for a care order on the grounds that the child is "beyond parental control" and as a result is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.

'Care judges in the larger courts in urban centres now see a regular flow of cases involving young people on the edge of the gang culture. Whilst these are not the most straightforward of cases, it is right that the family court is able to take steps to try to protect these young people, where protection is needed, and it is, again, a sign of the flexibility of the Children Act that its provisions apply readily to these modern problems.'