Knife attacks spark interstate search for law solutions

Samantha Lock, Jack Gramenz and Sophia McCaughan |

The 15-year-old will face court on dozens of charges, including “posting and boasting”.
The 15-year-old will face court on dozens of charges, including “posting and boasting”.

Police could be able to stop and search people for a weapon without reasonable suspicion or a warrant under laws being considered by the NSW government. 

Premier Chris Minns said he was looking at implementing so-called “wanding” powers in Australia’s most populous state after a spate of high-profile knife attacks that shocked Sydney.

The powers, hailed as a success story in Queensland, allow police to use hand-held metal detectors without warrants in designated night precincts and around transit hubs.

“We’re not announcing a law change today (but) we are contemplating those changes,” Mr Minns said on Tuesday.

“Part of that is seeing how law changes in other states have worked and the implications of those changes: have they helped and have they made a difference.” 

Police, emergency services and transport unions joined forces to decry the “appalling incidence of youth knife crime” and call for officers to be allowed to carry metal detectors.

Police Association of NSW president Kevin Morton said the “non-intrusive” search measure would act as a proactive deterrent.

“Clearly, the evidence of what’s happening in Queensland shows that we can get knives off the street,” he said.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW president Craig Turner said his members were urgently calling for protection from youth gangs that were threatening people on transport networks and at stations.

Health Services Union NSW’s Adam Hall said the state could not have a situation where “people put on their jeans and sneakers and casually slip a knife into their back pocket”.

Queensland’s laws, introduced as part of a crackdown on youth crime in the state, have led to more than 500 weapons seized since they were introduced in March 2023.

Belinda and Brett Beasley
Brett Beasley, whose son Jack was killed in a knife attack, says the laws should be expanded. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Brett Beasley, father of 19-year-old Jack who was stabbed and killed on a night out on the Gold Coast in 2019, said it was a “no brainer” for other states to follow Queensland’s legislation, colloquially known as “Jack’s Law”.

But Mr Minns said he would only implement such a major legal change if it was evidence-based and would make a difference.

Latest Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data indicates knife crime in NSW is at a 20-year low after steadily declining over the past decade.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties executive Stephen Blanks said giving police more powers would amount to nothing more than a “knee-jerk response to a series of violent and distressing but isolated incidents”.

“It wouldn’t have done anything to protect against what happened in Bondi,” he told AAP, referring to a mass stabbing attack that killed six people in a Westfield shopping centre.

The cost of imposing “airport-style security” for people to enter similar sites would be “absolutely prohibitive,” he said.

Mr Blanks worried police would execute searches on marginalised communities, exacerbating resentment and tensions between groups.

NSW “posting and boasting” laws will also be put to the test after a 15-year-old held on a slew of stolen vehicle charges became the first person to be charged under the scheme.

The performance-crime offence was created in March as part of a suite of changes targeting youth offenders.

An 18-year-old man was also charged with the crime after being arrested twice in one day following the theft of luxury vehicles – including a Ferrari – from a home at Dural, in Sydney’s northwest.