Teen girl brandishing knife forces Central Coast shopping centre into lockdown

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Premier Chris Minns reveals knife reforms to tackle crime.

A teenage girl brandishing a knife has sent a shopping centre on the NSW Central Coast into lockdown, ahead of NSW Police getting new “wanding” powers to detect knives in public.

Police rushed to a shopping centre on Goobarabar Avenue, Lake Haven — a northeast suburb of Wyong, about 53km south of Newcastle — at about 12.30pm on Monday when a teenage girl produced a knife near a Kmart store.

The knife was secured and the girl was transported to hospital to undergo an assessment.

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No threat was made to the public.

Footage of the incident shows the teenager standing in a corner of the Lake Haven shopping centre, surrounded by security.
Footage of the incident shows the teenager standing in a corner of the Lake Haven shopping centre, surrounded by security. Credit: 7NEWS

The incident was the latest in a string of reports of people brandishing knives in public spaces, and came ahead of NSW Police being granted new “wanding” powers.

Former NSW Police deputy commissioner Mick Willing appeared on Sunrise to discuss the incident on Tuesday, and said there was “no excuse” for someone to carry a knife in public, “unless they have a lawful reason, like employment”.

“There is no reason for somebody to carry a knife for self-defence and those sorts of things,” Mr Willing said.

He said the sight of a knife “is confronting”, and incidents involving blades — whether they are used to attack people or not — are “horrific”.

“We have seen the loss of life which has been absolutely tragic across the country in recent weeks,” Mr Willing continued.

“We don’t want that to continue.”

NSW Police are set to adopt sweeping powers for officers under Jack’s Law — which is named after 17-year-old Jack Beasley who was fatally stabbed on the Gold Coast in 2019 — allowing them to “wand” people in particular areas to find knives being carried in public.

NSW Police are set to get new “wanding” powers after a spate of knife attacks, the first was a massacre at Westfield Bondi Junction.
NSW Police are set to get new “wanding” powers after a spate of knife attacks, the first was a massacre at Westfield Bondi Junction. Credit: 9NEWS/supplied

Premier Chris Minns said the government would implement the law after a spate of high-profile knife attacks, including a massacre at Westfield Bondi Junction which left six people dead and many more injured.

The powers, which are hailed a success in Queensland, allow police to use hand-held metal detectors without warrants in designated nightlife precincts and around transit hubs.

More than 500 weapons have been taken off the streets since the reforms were introduced in Queensland in March 2023, including tomahawks, box cutters, and machetes.

In NSW a person found to be carrying a knife in public without a reason can be jailed for four years and fined up to $11,000.

But the NSW plans, revealed on Monday, will make penalties even harsher — and Mr Minns has said he is open to further tightening laws in the wake of multiple stabbings.

Under the new plans, NSW police will be able to search a person without a warrant in designated areas, including transport hubs, shopping centres and nightlife and entertainment precincts.

The powers can also be used “in circumstances where a relevant weapons offence/knife crime have occurred within the past six months”, the government said.

The reforms will also make it illegal to sell knives to a child under the age of 18, with exemptions for those who need a knife for work or study.

Mr Willing told Sunrise he was pleased to see Jack’s Law being implemented.

“Anything we can do to take knives off the street, stop people being injured and in some cases killed, is a positive,” he said.

The change in policy in NSW could set the tone for the rest of the country, which has wildly different laws on carrying knives in public.

In the ACT, brandishing a knife could land a person in jail for just six months.

While in Victoria, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a knife is just over one year.

WA Attorney General John Quigley has expressed interest in giving the State’s police powers to “wand” people in entertainment precincts.

- with AAP

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