New laws allowing police officers to detect people carrying knives in public have come into effect to help combat knife crime across Queensland.
Under Jack’s Law passed in parliament last week, police officers will be able to conduct stop and wand operations in all Safe Night Precincts (SNPs) and on public transport.
Following the stabbing death of 17-year-old Jack Beasley in 2019, legislation was introduced in 2021 for police to trial the use of hand-held metal detectors to detect knives in SNPs on the Gold Coast.
The trial was conducted between May 2021 and November 2022 where 241 weapons were taken off the streets and 647 people were charged with various offences.
The weapons detected included machetes, screwdrivers, flick knives, knuckledusters, tasers and a replica gun.
Jack’s Law has expanded the designated areas where officers can conduct scanning activity for weapons to all SNPs across Queensland, on public trains, trams, buses and ferries and at public transport hubs as part of pre-authorised operations.
Police stand ready to operationalise the expansion, with ‘wanding’ operations planning to commence in select locations including Fortitude Valley and Townsville as early as Easter Saturday.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Wheeler said the laws were designed to reduce knife crime and create safer public spaces.
“We know Jack’s Law will make our communities safer and help us reduce knife-related crime, particularly in public precincts,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Wheeler said.
“While we expect to detect people carrying weapons and remove them from harm’s way, we also want to deter people from carrying knives and other weapons in the first place.
“We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the trial on the Gold Coast and we look forward to rolling out these measures across the state in all Safe Night Precincts and on public transport vehicles and at public transport hubs.”
Acting Deputy Commissioner Wheeler said officers were undergoing specific training to ensure the new powers were used appropriately.
“The use of a hand-held scanner does not make any contact with the person and only takes a minute or two if nothing is located,” he said.
“There is no excuse to be carrying a knife or weapon in public and unfortunately we have seen the horrific consequences of knife crime in our state.”
Between July 2021 and June 2022, there were more than 3,200 offences involving someone being in possession of a knife in a public place or school throughout Queensland.
During the same period, 11 people died in assaults involving a knife.
In 2022, a 24-year-old man was allegedly stabbed with a knife in close proximity to the Fortitude Valley Railway Station.
If caught carrying a knife in a public place, you risk a $5,750 fine and/or one year in prison.