Following in Queensland’s footsteps, WA plans ‘anywhere, anytime’ knife searches

Western Australian police could be given greater powers to stop and search citizens without reasonable suspicion under proposed laws designed to combat knife crime.

May 23, 2024, updated May 23, 2024
Forensic police are seen with a knife at the scene of a small fire and wounding at the Grange in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Forensic police are seen with a knife at the scene of a small fire and wounding at the Grange in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)


Officers would be legally permitted to use hand-held metal detectors to scan people for hidden weapons in so-called Knife Wanding Areas designated by police.

Any person who refuses to let officers carry out a wanding scan on them or refuses to produce an object found during the search could be jailed for up to one year and fined $12,000.

Premier Roger Cook says his government is serious about tackling the threat of knife crime to better protect Western Australians.

“We’ve seen the devastating outcomes – both here and in other parts of the country – that can eventuate when people choose to act outside the law,” he said on Thursday.

If the laws pass parliament WA’s entertainment precincts would be designated as established as permanent Knife Wanding Areas, enabling officers to search people who enter them for hidden knives and other dangerous items.

Under the proposal, senior police ranked inspector or above would be empowered to declare KWAs in any public place such as shopping centres, bus stops, train stations, and sporting, community or entertainment events.

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Short-term KWAs would be enforced for up to 12 hours, with the potential to be renewed as operationally required.

The changes also include a new edged weapon offence, which increases penalties for the illegal possession of bladed weapons to a maximum of three years imprisonment, with a fine of $36,000.

People found to be carrying a knife with a legitimate reason would be protected from prosecution but possession for self-defence is not considered a lawful excuse.

Anyone caught selling an edged weapon to a person under the age of 18 would also face a higher penalty of up to three years behind bars, with a $36,000 fine, under the legislation.

Stricter penalties for prohibited weapons, such as ballistic knives and knuckle knives, will also be introduced to parliament, increasing the penalty from three years imprisonment and a $36,000 fine to five years imprisonment and a fine of $60,000.

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