NSW Government passes knife ‘wanding’ legislation, legal groups push back

NSW Government passes knife ‘wanding’ legislation, legal groups push back
Image: NSW Premier Chris Minns (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

In a sweeping effort to tackle knife crime in the state, NSW Police now have the power to use metal-detecting wands to stop and scan people without a warrant in designated areas.

But several legal bodies have pushed back against the legislation, passed on Thursday afternoon, saying the laws would only build mistrust.

“We have years of evidence showing that arbitrarily increasing police powers doesn’t result in safer communities. These laws will subject already over-policed communities to further targeting and harassment”, said Jonathon Hunyor, CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

The Aboriginal Legal Service said the new legislation is another setback to the Closing the Gap targets set by the Government, especially at a time of record numbers of Aboriginal people in prison.

“We know that giving police additional powers to stop and search will lead to Aboriginal people being disproportionately and unfairly targeted. Whenever police are given discretion, we see this same pattern play out,” said Karly Warner, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited (ALS).

“We are all devastated by recent events where people have tragically lost their lives or been injured by knife violence,” she continued. “But the new laws would not have prevented those incidents. What they will do is force more Aboriginal people and other marginalised groups into contact with police.”

“We’ve just hit new records in New South Wales for Aboriginal people in prison. This is a time of crisis when the Government should be working in partnership with us towards a better way, not introducing legislation with no evidence base and that flies in the face of Closing the Gap.”

Jack’s Law 

The laws are modelled on Jack’s Law, which was passed in Queensland in 2023 following the death of teenage Jack Beasley.

NSW Premier Chris Minns thanked his parents, Belinda and Brett Beasley, “whose advocacy has helped change the law, making NSW a safer place.”

“Our state is still shaken following the devastating spate of knife related violence,” said Minns.

“We have taken action to send a clear message that NSW will simply not accept these kinds of crimes.”

The new legislation will see the maximum penalty for selling a knife to a child under the age of 16 increased, and introduces a new offence prohibiting selling a knife to a child aged 16 or 17 without a reasonable excuse.

The Act also increases the maximum penalty The Act amends the Summary Offences Act 1988 (Summary Offences Act) to double the maximum financial penalty for selling a knife to a child under the age of 16 to $11,000, imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

The legislation comes after the government passed laws that would make it more difficult for children accused of certain offences to get bail.

 

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