Knife-wielding teen girl forces shopping center into lockdown in NSW

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A photo shows a teenager brandishing knife outside a shopping center in New South Wales, Australia.

AUSTRALIA, May 7: An alarming incident unfolded at Lake Haven Centre near Wyong on the NSW Central Coast as a teenage girl wielded a knife outside a Kmart store, prompting a lockdown of the bustling shopping center. The unsettling scene, which transpired around 12:30 pm on Monday, saw the girl surrounded by police officers and security guards in a corner of the complex.

Fortunately, no direct threat was made to the public, and security personnel managed to secure the knife without any harm. The teenager was subsequently escorted to the hospital for assessment.

This occurrence adds to a concerning trend of knife-related incidents across Sydney, including recent occurrences in Wesfield Bondi Junction, Wakeley, and Blacktown. In response to rising concerns over knife violence, NSW Police announced plans to implement new ‘wanding powers’ aimed at enhancing security measures and curbing the possession of bladed weapons.

Inspired by Queensland’s ‘Jack’s Law,’ introduced after the tragic stabbing of 17-year-old Jack Beasley in 2019, the new measures empower police officers to conduct scans for knives using handheld metal detectors in public spaces like shopping centers, pubs, and train stations. These powers will be deployed selectively, and activated for 12 hours as needed.

Moreover, legislation will tighten regulations on knife sales, prohibiting retailers from selling knives to individuals under the age of 18 without legitimate work or study-related reasons. Retailers found violating these regulations will face stringent penalties, reflecting the government’s determination to combat knife-related crimes.

NSW Premier Chris Minns underscored the urgency of addressing knife violence, emphasizing the need for immediate action to prevent further tragedies. Police and Counter-Terrorism Minister Yasmin Catley echoed these sentiments, asserting that the new measures will serve as a strong deterrent against potential perpetrators.

The rollout of similar initiatives in Queensland has yielded promising results, with 39,000 individuals scanned and 400 weapons seized since the implementation of ‘Jack’s Law.’ Kitchen knives, hammers, hunting knives, and other potentially dangerous items were confiscated as part of efforts to tackle knife-related offenses.

In NSW, a recent operation involving over 800 officers resulted in the seizure of 51 knives and the charging of 145 individuals with weapon-related offenses, including the confiscation of a firearm. These efforts build on previous initiatives, which saw 4,000 knives seized in public places last year following the government’s decision to double penalties for weapon possession in public.

As authorities intensify their crackdown on knife-related crimes, the community remains vigilant, hoping that these measures will contribute to a safer environment for all.

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