Cutting edge of violence Lisa CARTY NSW Political Editor
November 1, 2009 .
CRIME figures show Sydney city is still the state's worst knife crime hot spot, with 254 attacks reported last year.
But the Bureau of Crime Statistics data released by Police Minister Michael Daley show a huge rise in knife crimes in the Bankstown local government area, where offences rose from 100 in 2007-08 to 151 in 2008-09.
While the figures point to a statewide drop of 8.2 per cent in knife crimes, Mr Daley has vowed police will continue to crack down on the use of knives and other sharp weapons such as scissors and screwdrivers.
Liverpool, Blacktown, Campbell-town, Newcastle and Canterbury all recorded slight increases in knife crimes, while decreases were recorded in Marrickville, Strathfield, Penrith, Warringah, Rockdale, Wagga Wagga and Holroyd council areas.
Despite recording a decrease of 105, Sydney City recorded the highest number of knife crimes in the state.
Mr Daley praised the police commitment to reducing knife crime. "Police across the state are continually making our streets safer, confiscating knives off people out to cause trouble and - in some cases - serious harm," he said. "Across the state, the number of offences involving a knife or sharp implement is down.
"High-visibility police operations such as Operation Vikings and Operation Vision 5 on our public transport network continue to send a strong message to criminals who carry knives that they will be caught by police.
"In many of these hot spots, police have achieved excellent results in keeping the number of knife-related incidents low. For example, in the Sydney local government area, there has been a drop of 29 per cent.''
The Police Minister said the state had Australia's toughest knife laws and police officers would continue to focus their activities on trouble spots in Sydney's CBD and the western suburbs.
A bill before Parliament will have first-time knife carriers liable for a jail sentence of up to two years, rather than being let off with a $550 fine, unless they can show good reason for having a knife, such as for a fishing expedition.
The bill, drafted by the Reverend Fred Nile, will also introduce a $5500 fine for anyone who refuses to be searched for a knife.
"The Government makes no apologies for this tough stance and I've asked NSW Police Commissioner [Andrew] Scipione to keep me updated about the efforts of police in catching these gutless criminals,'' Mr Daley said.
In 2007-08, knives and other sharp implements were used in 4086 crimes; in 2008-09, that figure had fallen to 3736
Will it be ethical/legal/adviseable for a farmer to carry the traditional pocket knife in a belt pouch when he/she comes to town?