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Thursday, November 30, 2023

New laws to enhance community safety

THE Queensland Government will introduce new laws to Parliament to restrict the sale of knives, certain other bladed items and replica firearms (including gel blasters) to juveniles, in a commitment to protect the community and further combat knife crime and youth offending.

The proposed laws would see the sale of knives, certain other bladed items like machetes, axes, swords, and replica firearms (including gel blasters) to juveniles, become an offence.

These new laws aim to reduce the accessibility of these items to young people, disrupt and deter violent offences while enhancing community safety.

Under the proposed legislation, any person attempting to use false identification to purchase one of these items could also be charged with an offence.

Retailers will be required to display signage regarding the prohibition of sales to juveniles and have obligations requiring secure storage for certain other bladed items like machetes, axes, swords, sickles, daggers, double-edged blades and spears.

To further curb the notoriety of weapon possession among young people, it will be prohibited for these items to be advertised in a violent manner or in a way that suggests they are ‘suitable for combat’.

The proposed laws follow research conducted by Queensland Police Service (QPS), including an assessment of crime statistics, and consideration of comparable legislative responses in Queensland including the restriction on the sale of spray paint to juveniles.

The new laws come as the QPS seize 350 weapons in the first six months of wanding operations under Jack’s Law.

More than 2,900 handheld scanner operations have been conducted since 30 March 2023, when Jack’s Law legislation was extended and expanded to all Safe Night Precincts, on public transport and at transport hubs.

During wanding operations more than 31,800 people have been scanned, resulting in 904 people being charged with almost 1,600 offences, mostly related to weapon and drug matters.

Jack’s Law is the result of the dedicated advocacy of the Jack Beasley Foundation and Brett and Belinda Beasley in reforming knife crime legislation, in honour of their 17-year-old son Jack, who was tragically fatally stabbed on the Gold Coast in 2019.

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the laws will assist in keeping dangerous items out of the hands of young criminals, preventing violent offences before they can occur.

This will go hand in hand with the expansion of Jack’s Law, which is saving lives and reducing violence across Queensland every single day

Minister for Police and Corrective Services Mark Ryan

Jack Beasley Foundation founder Brett Beasley said he and his wife Belinda will always grieve for Jack, but that it is heartening to see his legacy live on.

“Six months after Jack’s Law came into effect it’s really encouraging to see that police are using Jack’s legacy to undertake wanding operations right across the state,” he said.

“It’s clearly making a real difference in helping to keep communities safe.

“It’s also very gratifying to see the government take another significant step in relation to restricting the availability of weapons, especially to young people.”

In a bid to curb knife crime, the Australian-first legislation allows police to use a handheld metal detecting wand in authorised locations to detect weapons, deter offending and protect the community.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: High-achieving outdoor education teacher recognised and Art exhibition to strengthen students’ identity.

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