Knife offenders could face jail

TOUGH new laws that could see first-time knife crime offenders jailed sends a message that weapons are not a fashion accessory, the NSW Government has stated.

Changes to be adopted by NSW Parliament on Thursday will increase the penalties for anyone caught in possession of a knife in public.

Currently the penalty for a first offence is a fine, but the changes will mean even first-time offenders could be sent to jail.

Refusing to allow police to conduct a knife search in a public place or a school will now attract a maximum fine of $5500.

The amendments were introduced to parliament by Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile, but Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said the bill had the government's support.

“I think it's important to drive home this message that being in possession of a knife in a public place or near a school can't be regarded as a fashion accessory,” Mr Hatzistergos told reporters.

Mr Hatzistergos said laws introduced in 1998 prohibiting the carrying of knives had lead to a drop in offences.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman Greg Smith said the coalition would also support the bill, saying it was long overdue and the government should have acted sooner.

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