Security guard weapons under review after NSW stabbings

Sam McKeith |

The death of Faraz Tahir has started a debate in NSW about what weapons security guards can carry.
The death of Faraz Tahir has started a debate in NSW about what weapons security guards can carry.

Weapon restrictions for security guards in NSW will be reviewed after a deadly mass stabbing at a Sydney shopping centre, although the government has already ruled out access to firearms.

Faraz Tahir, a security worker at Westfield Bondi Junction, was one of six people killed in the attack, prompting calls for guards to be armed with weapons such as pepper spray, handcuffs, batons and even Tasers.

Under rules governing the most common security licence class in NSW, officers are empowered to patrol, protect or guard property but cannot be armed.

Premier Chris Minns said he would not make any immediate changes, but there would be a review of the regulations – except those relating to firearms.

“The government is not considering policy changes in relation to stun guns or firearms,” he said on Monday.

“I don’t believe that more firearms in the community is a good decision.”

The review will cover rules for guards in crowded places and hospitals, where people suffering from mental health conditions or others could pose a threat.

“You would appreciate that in some instances there are violent interactions on wards in emergency departments, or ICUs, involving individuals that may have a mental health condition,” the premier said.

But Mr Minns said it was unclear if “alternative equipment” for security guards would have resulted in a different outcome on Saturday.

“The truth of the matter is, we may never know,” he said.

Queensland man Joel Cauchi, 40, had experienced long-term mental health issues before he carried out the stabbing, which ended when he was shot dead by a police inspector.

Both the NSW opposition and United Workers Union, which represents security guards, said it was too early to comment on the issue.

The review comes after the government in 2023 announced a probe into the adequacy of protections for frontline health workers.

An earlier inquiry urged stronger safety measures, including a trial of defensive gear, for security staff.

Sydney-based security expert Gina Field urged the government to relax rules on body armour to allow easier access for security guards.

Ms Field, the head of security firm NRS, said an exemption for the protective vests from rules classifying them as prohibited weapons would bolster guard safety.

“Most guards are ‘armed’ with nothing more than a mobile phone and radio, and that’s just not good enough,” she said.