Stop and scan knife trial to expand in Qld

"Exceptional" police powers to stop and search people for knives without reasonable suspicion will soon be expanded to public transport and nightclub precincts in Queensland.

Officers on the Gold Coast have already been using the powers to undertake random searches using detection wands under a trial in the holiday destination's "safe night precincts".

More than 16,000 people have been searched, resulting in 197 weapons seized including knives, machetes and knitting needles, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Wednesday.

Close to 500 people were charged during the trial.

"Police have found wanding such an effective tool, that the trial of these powers will now be expanded for two years in all Queensland safe night precincts and ... into public transport," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Trams, buses, trains and ferries, as well as public transport stations, will be included under the new laws, soon to be introduced to parliament.

"These are exceptional powers, you don't see powers like this in many places around the world," Police Minister Mark Ryan said.

Failure to comply with a request to search is an offence, but Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Wheeler said police were using the power responsibly.

Police on patrol don't "decide to run a wand over someone, for instance, who's elderly, walking through a safe night precinct," Mr Wheeler said.

"Even though they don't need suspicion legally, police are still using this really, really strong power as judiciously as possible.

"We want the community to trust us with it."

A review of the Gold Coast trial by Griffith University's Criminology Institute found it contributed to increased knife detection in Surfers Paradise but not Broadbeach.

"This variability in outcome between the two sites suggests that any continuation of wanding should be targeted at only those areas where data shows a proportionately higher prevalence of knife offences occurring over a sustained period," the report tabled in parliament on Wednesday says.

It also found that while more knives were detected in Surfers Paradise, this has not as yet led to a "statistically significant" drop in violent crime.

In terms of who is subject to searches, the report noted that wanding was used inconsistently across different groups.

"While the targeting of young people was clearly intended under the legislation, and there is an evidence base for selecting more males than females, there is some evidence of inappropriate use of stereotypes and cultural assumptions by a small number of officers in determining who to select for wanding," the report says.

Given an increased number of drug detections linked to wanding, care needs to be taken to ensure the powers don't result in the "by-passing of reasonable suspicion safeguards", it notes.

"The entry of larger numbers of these individuals into formal criminal justice processes could have many adverse flow-on effects."

State Greens MP Michael Berkman said it was cynical of Mr Ryan to "skim over" the report findings when announcing the trial extension.

"These wands have been more successful at criminalising drug users than stopping knife crime," he said.

"They don't improve safety, in fact, they're pushing more people into the criminal legal system when we should be focusing on health-based responses to drug use."

The Queensland government hopes to have the required legislation passed by mid 2023, and will name the expanded powers Jack's Law after teenager Jack Beasley, who was fatally stabbed in Surfers Paradise in 2019.