The State’s Police Minister believes the proposed use of hand-held metal detectors on the Gold Coast will help deter juveniles from carrying knives across the city.
Under new laws, which are set to be passed next month, police on the Gold Coast will be given powers to randomly search someone with a hand-held metal detector wand.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said officers will carry out the random searches in safe night precincts like Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach at high-risk times.
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“What we can do to help prevent knife crime is give police the laws to intervene early, and so here on the Gold Coast, we will give police the power for the first time ever to search someone with a hand-held metal detector to see if that person has a knife,” Minister Ryan said.
“If that person has a knife, obviously they’re going to have to explain why they’ve got that knife”. If not, suspects will be arrested on the spot.
Minister Ryan said the introduction of hand-held metal detectors will give police the opportunity to “prevent crime before it happens”.
“This is about making our community a safer place… It is part of a suite of options that we’re putting forward in legislation, which will pass in the first sitting in February,” he said.
The crackdown on knives also follows strong calls by the Jack Beasley Foundation, which was started by the parents of Gold Coast teenager Jack Beasley, who died after being stabbed in Surfers Paradise in 2019.
“They’ve been very very staunch advocates for additional powers in terms of being able to use metal detectors to search for knives,” Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said.
Under the proposed changes to legislation, police will not need “reasonable suspicion needed at the moment to undertake a search of a person.”
“When you carry a knife or if you make the decision to carry a knife in public or in a school, under the Weapons Act, you need a reasonable excuse… The self-defence aspect that people raise all the time is not a reasonable excuse and will never prohibit you from being charged,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler said.
“So our message is really clear, particularly to young people carrying a knife for self-defence, it’s simply not on and it will lead to your prosecution.”
In 2020, about a third of knife-related offences on the Gold Coast were committed by juveniles.
“Carrying of a knife in a public place or carrying a knife by a young person is so incredibly dangerous, you run the risk of ending someone else’s life and destroying your own life forever,” Chief Superintendent Wheeler warned.
“The difference between a minor injury or a scratch and a fatality is about a millimetre. There is no room for error.
“So what we’re hoping is that when we use these new powers and we will certainly be very responsible when we use them, that people are actually deterred from carrying knives in the first place.”
The hand-held metal detector trial is expected to begin as soon as the laws are passed through Parliament.