New reforms to target knife crime

A knife collected by NSW Police during a statewide operation targeting knife crime during April.

IN the wake of a series of tragic knife crime incidents across the state, including one last week at Park Beach in Coffs Harbour, the NSW Government has announced a package of reforms to target possession of knives, reduce knife crime and boost community safety.

The Government will develop legislation modelled on Queensland’s ‘Jack’s Law’ which will give Police powers to “wand” or “scan” people for knives without a warrant in designated areas, including transport hubs, shopping centres and other crowded places.

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These powers will be made available in circumstances where a relevant weapons offence/knife crime has occurred within the past six months.

An authority can then be issued by Police, enabling them to “wand” or “scan” people.

The authority will last for 12 hours, with an option to extend as required.

It will also become illegal to sell knives to a child under the age of eighteen, with provisions for exemptions for retailers selling to young people who need a knife for their work or study.

Penalties for people selling knives to young people under the age of eighteen will be increased too.

“In recent weeks and months, we have all borne witness to the devastating outcomes of knife related violence,” Premier Chris Minns said.

“I know that many in our community have followed the devastating media coverage and heard the stories of victims and families – tragically there have been so many recent examples.

“Our communities are still in mourning, but it’s essential that we step up to take immediate action to send a clear message that NSW will simply not accept these kinds of crimes.”

While commending the NSW Government for attempting reform, Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the new laws “simply don’t go far enough”.

“Police should have the ability to perform these searches anytime, anywhere.

“By placing limits on these powers to specific public areas and at specific times does not create a significant enough deterrent to carrying a knife in public.

“Anyone unlawfully carrying a knife should know that any police officer anywhere can perform a search for knives and that they can face significant penalties for doing so.

“Law abiding citizens want to feel safe on our streets again and we await to see the drafting of Labor’s proposed bill before seeing how it can be amended to better reflect community expectations.”

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