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WA to add nation-leading knife laws

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WA knife reforms will add tougher penalties for the possession and sale of knives to children, Premier Roger Cook has announced.
WA knife reforms

Western Australia is expected to introduce the “toughest knife laws in the country”.

The WA Government will introduce draft legislation that would give police powers to conduct random weapon scans without needing “reasonable suspicion”.

Under the proposed changes, any person illegally carrying an “edged weapon” (like a knife) could face up to three years imprisonment and a $36,000 fine.

It follows similar measures introduced in Queensland last year.

WA knife reforms

Under the changes, police will be able to use handheld metal ‘wand’ detectors to search for hidden knives and other weapons.

Police won’t need a specific reason or suspicion to conduct searches in specified public areas such as entertainment precincts, shopping centres, transport hubs, and sporting events.

There will be some exceptions for carrying a knife, but this won’t extend to self-defence.

Penalties

Under the draft laws, anyone who refuses to produce a weapon when requested or refuses to be searched could face up to 12 months imprisonment and fines up to $12,000.

The maximum penalty for selling a knife to a child will also increase to three years in jail and a $36,000 fine.

Those found to be carrying banned weapons, including ballistic knives (with detachable or ejectable blades) and knuckle knives, will face increased penalties of up to five years behind bars, and a $60,000 fine.

Cook’s response

WA Premier Roger Cook said the proposal is in response to “devastating” recent knife crimes in Australia.

He described the draft law as a “proactive” measure to deter illegal knife possession in busy public areas.

Knife crime in the state has reduced by nearly 50% over the last 17 years. When asked about the necessity of new knife laws in WA, Police Minister Paul Papalia said the proposal would help manage “high-profile incidents” of knife crime which could occur in the future.

Opposition response

WA Opposition Leader Shane Love said the Coalition would support measures to improve public safety, and called the proposed knife crime legislation a “high-priority” issue.

Love said the Opposition would “await the full detail” of the legislation before developing a further response.

The Labor Government has a majority of seats in both houses of WA Parliament, and won’t need any external support to pass the reforms.

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