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Saws, knives and axes: Coast crackdown on concealed weapons finds deadly arsenal

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Police have seized more than 50 weapons including saws, screwdrivers, kitchen knives, and axes from teens as young as 13 on the Gold Coast within six months of police trialling metal-detectors to crackdown on late night knife-crime.

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The weapons haul has resulted in 122 charges against 95 people and was netted in just two Gold Coast late night party zones in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach since 30 April.

Gold Coast police acting chief superintendent Rhys Wildman said police had searched 1,491 people in the state’s first use of the metal-detecting wands at the “safe night precincts.”

All of the offenders were male, 34 per cent were juveniles, he said.

“We haven’t recovered any weapons from a female,” Wildman told ABC Gold Coast.

“It’s males, and furthermore the median age is 18.

“So the evidence is pointing us to the targeted program, which is all part of the youth justice reforms, and we’re hitting the mark in relation to where we are aiming.”

Wildman said 36 of the charges were weapons-related offences. The arrests include a 30-year-old man who was charged with weapons offences and obstructing police on Saturday night after he was discovered to be carrying a replica firearm at north Broadbeach tram stop.

“Anyone who is carrying a replica firearm in a public place late at night in one of our safe night precincts, you’d have to be asking yourself why that person is carrying that particular item,” Wildman said.

The State Government enhanced police powers to trial metal detecting wands to target knife crime on the Gold Coast in April as part of a suite of hard-core Youth Justice reforms and $98.4 million youth crime funding package.

The wanding powers are limited to the Gold Coast’s safe night precincts at Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise, which were set up to reduce late-night drug and alcohol-related violence.

Former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson is reviewing the impact of the trial and other youth crime reforms, due before the end of the year.

Wildman said Griffith University was also conducting an independent trial on the wanding program, that he hoped would be continued and expanded.

“I am surprised, concerned (by the results). But what we are seeing is actually a decrease in knife-related incidents,” Wildman said.

“Through the trial we have seen an increase in knives being located, funnily enough because we are doing wanding. But associated knife related crime is decreasing in those particular precincts, which is really good news for us.

“It obviously has been an issue. There’s a been a 4 per cent increase (in knife crime) across Queensland generally. Here on the Coast it’s been similar.”

Police will also today launch a new education campaign to support the crackdown on youth knife crime.

The ‘I live my life without a knife” campaign has been trialled at Logan for the past 12 months.

Wildman said it had contributed to cutting knife-related offences in Logan during the year by 23 per cent.

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