By Janet Ransley, Nadine Connell, Margo van Felius and Shannon Walding

In 2021, legislation was passed in Queensland to enable the trial of metal detecting wand use by police in two sites. The goal of the legislation is to improve detection of, and achieve reductions in, knife carrying, primarily by young people. Reduced knife-carrying is intended to lead to reduced serious violent offending involving bladed weapons, particularly by young people and particularly in crowded late night entertainment districts. The trial was held in the Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach Safe Night Precincts (SNPs).

This is a report on the evaluation of the impact, effectiveness, efficiency and equity of the trial for the 12 months from 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022, commissioned by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and tabled in the Queensland Parliament on 9 November 2022. The evaluation combined administrative data from QPS, focus groups with community stakeholders and police officers, and observations of wanding operations.

Key findings include that:

1. In the Surfers Paradise SNP, but not in the Broadbeach SNP, the wanding trial contributed to increased detection of knife carrying.

2. This indicates wanding should be targeted only at areas where data shows higher than usual prevalence of knife offences.

3. While it may help with detection in certain areas, there is no evidence yet that wanding deters knife carrying.

4. There is also no evidence yet that wanding has led to reduced violent or other crime, but it has led to an increase in detected drug offences in Surfers Paradise SNP which can increase the flow of minor offenders into formal criminal justice processes.

Suggestions include that wanding should only be used in areas with proven higher than usual counts of weapons offences; the authorisation and notification processes be refined; officer training be improved including on avoiding decision-making based on stereotypes; monitoring and accountability be strengthened; and QPS address shortcomings in its recording of ethnicity.

A copy of the full report can be accessed here.

For a visual recap of the project stages, please view the infographics below:

Status Report 1
Status Report 2
Status Report 3