‘Envy of other states’: Qld police hail wanding laws

Fraser Barton |

Queensland police have seized more than 500 weapons since stop-and-search powers were expanded.
Queensland police have seized more than 500 weapons since stop-and-search powers were expanded.

Hundreds of weapons including tomahawks, box cutters and large machetes have been seized by police one year after stop-and-search powers were expanded in Queensland.

The powers, under legislation known as “Jack’s Law” after 17-year-old Jack Beasley was fatally stabbed on the Gold Coast in 2019, have allowed police to use a metal detection wand in night precincts, transit hubs and on public transport since March 2023.

Since the powers were expanded police have carried out 4100 “wanding” operations with 51,000 people scanned across the state. More than 500 weapons have been seized.

A total of 1369 people have been apprehended by police on 2469 charges in relation to weapons, drugs, bail and other offences during the operation.

“It is the envy of other states and territories can I say,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Massingham told reporters on Thursday.

“This is a piece of legislation that allows us … to search people without a warrant under some authorisation guidelines that we have, looking for knives on our transport hubs and also in our safe night precincts. 

“This has been a success story, without a doubt, over the last 12 months.”

Expanded police powers have led to the seizure of almost 800 weapons in total following an earlier trial of Jack’s Law on the Gold Coast between May 2021 and November 2022. 

Police are now seeking additional scope to expand the laws to shopping centres and have made submissions to the state government with the backing of Jack Beasley’s parents Brett and Belinda, who operate the Jack Beasley Foundation. 

Mr Massingham said the laws are a powerful way to ensure community safety, saying feedback throughout the state had been positive.

“The number of complaints we’ve received from members of the public I can count on one hand,” he said. 

“This is a very well-supported operation.”

Ms Beasley would like to see the reforms rolled out into all public spaces due to the volume of weapons seized.

She is shocked that it’s not just children found with knives.

“That’s gobsmacked me even more, that there’s adults carrying knives, it’s not just juveniles, it’s adults as well,” she said. 

“They need to understand that it affects so many people’s lives and people need to understand that it’s a lifelong sentence that we’ve got.”

In February the Queensland government brought forward legislation banning the sale of replica guns, knives and other edged weapons to minors in a bid to crack down on youth crime.

Possession in public carries a penalty of 18 months’ imprisonment for the first offence.

The state government has committed $6 million towards knife prevention and education campaigns, including $500,000 over two years to the Beasley Foundation.