New knife laws in NSW – Will the changes reduce stabbings?

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In a bid to reduce knife crime in NSW, new laws focus on preventing young people from carrying the dangerous weapons.
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The government have introduced a number of new knife laws in NSW. In a bid to reduce knife crime in NSW, the laws mainly focus on preventing young people from carrying the dangerous weapons. The recent stabbing attacks in New South Wales, including incidents in Bondi Junction, Wakeley, and Doonside, have encouraged the government to act now.

Now, a Senior Police Officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner, or above, can turn on 'wanding powers' to be used in a designated high-risk areas.

Check out our Factsheet on knives.

New knife laws in NSW

The proposed new knife laws in NSW include:

  • Giving police the power to "wand" anyone in designated areas for weapons, without needing a warrant or reasonable suspicion. Failure to comply may result in a penalty fine of $5500.
  • These powers will be available in busy areas, including transport hubs, shopping centres, pubs and clubs. The authority will last for 12 hours. However, police have the power to extend as required.
  • Making it illegal to sell a knife to anyone under 18, with exceptions for those who need a knife for work or study (the current age limit is 16).

These laws are in addition to the recent reforms on knife laws in NSW over the past year, including:

  • Doubling the maximum penalties for possessing or wielding a knife in a public place or school, from 2 to 4 years in prison and increasing fines.
  • Ongoing review by the NSW Sentencing Council into sentencing for firearms, knives, and other weapons offences.
  • Continued NSW Police operations targeting knife crime, such as 'Operation Foil' (see below). This operation resulted in thousands of knives being seized in public places.

The wanding power in NSW

Police can turn on wanding powers in areas where there has been knife crime or knife possession offences. However, one of the following incidents must have occurred in the last 12 months:

  • At least once offence committed by someone armed with knife/weapon,
  • Or one serious offence involving violence,
  • Or more than one offence of knife/other weapon possession.

We have successfully settled lots of knife crime cases in favour of our clients. Read our criminal Case Studies here.

How have police operations like "Operation Foil" contributed to the reduction of knife crimes?

Police operations like "Operation Foil" have significantly contributed to the reduction of knife crimes in NSW. Here are some key points highlighting their impact:

  • Knife Seizures: During Operation Foil, which ran from April 11 to 13, 2024, police seized 51 knives and weapons, indicating a substantial reduction in the number of dangerous weapons on the streets.
  • Charges and Arrests: The operation resulted in 145 people being charged with weapon-related offenses, including the seizure of a firearm. This demonstrates the effectiveness of targeted police operations in deterring and apprehending individuals involved in knife crime.
  • Community Engagement: Operations like Operation Foil are part of a broader strategy to engage with the community, particularly young people, to prevent knife crime. This includes initiatives like Operation Pivot, which has seen police engage with over 3,200 at-risk youths and deliver anti-violence presentations to over 987 schools, educating over 180,000 students.
  • High-Impact Results: The operation's results are impressive, with significant numbers of arrests, drug detections, and traffic infringement notices issued. This suggests that the targeted approach has been effective in addressing various forms of anti-social behaviour and crime.
  • Ongoing Efforts: The NSW Police have committed to continuing such operations, ensuring that the momentum built during Operation Foil is maintained. This ongoing focus on combating knife crime and anti-social behaviour will likely contribute to further reductions in knife-related incidents.

These efforts have helped to make the community safer and have sent a strong message that knife crime will not be tolerated.

Detective Superintendent, Darren Newman, explained:

"People need to understand that carrying a knife is illegal unless you have a justifiable reason.

"If you are armed with a knife and become involved in an altercation where someone is injured or even killed, you can face a substantial prison sentence."

Government action on knife laws in NSW

Premier Chris Minns stated these "commonsense" changes are aimed at deterring young people from carrying knives and sending a clear message that NSW will not accept knife crimes. The government explained that it developed legislation based on Queensland's Jack's Law. This law gave police officers the ability to powers to 'wand' or 'scan' citizens for weapons without a warrant in designated areas. Such areas include transport hubs, shopping centres and any other place where people flock to in crowds.

Will tougher knife laws in NSW reduce stabbings?

While knife crime statistics have been declining in NSW over the past decade, the recent high-profile attacks have prompted the government to further tighten knife laws and give police expanded search powers to combat the issue.

Some experts quoted in the results express scepticism about the effectiveness of certain approaches like increased police stop-and-search powers. They argue they need to be part of a broader, evidence-based strategy.

The evidence on the effectiveness of tougher knife laws in NSW in reducing stabbings is mixed and inconclusive at this stage. More time and research are needed to determine the real-world impact of these legislative changes.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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