Re­dress vi­tal as beg­ging spikes

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By MATTHEW DAL­LAS

A by­law ban­ning beg­ging in Porirua is be­ing con­sid­ered as a way to com­bat an in­crease in in­ci­dents of youths ac­cost­ing shop­pers and ask­ing for cash.

Kapiti Mana po­lice area com­man­der in­spec­tor John Spence met with Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett on the is­sue last week.

Mr Spence said the num­ber of com­plaints to po­lice con­cern­ing street beg­gars in cen­tral Porirua and Can­nons Creek – par­tic­u­larly groups of kids, of­ten near ATM ma­chines – had in­creased in the past 12 to 18 months.

He said a by­law would give po­lice ‘‘teeth’’, to make ar­rests and pos­si­bly is­sue fines, but was still in the ‘‘ early days’’ of con­sid­er­a­tion.

‘‘I’ve had an ini­tial dis­cus­sion with the mayor and chief ex­ec­u­tive about try­ing to bring this to a stop.

‘‘ A by­law is be­ing looked at by the of­fi­cials in coun­cil.

‘‘We’re bring­ing the facts and fig­ures to­gether.

‘‘It’s one op­tion to try and ad­dress this . . . At the moment, as soon as po­lice come around, they dis­ap­pear.’’

Mr Leggett said he has been hear­ing the mes­sage from the com­mu­nity, and not just in the cen­tral city, of cases where peo­ple were be­ing in­tim­i­dated by beg­gars.

‘‘There’s a lot of wa­ter to go un­der the bridge be­fore any­thing hap­pens, we need dis­cus­sion in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘I want to know the ex­tent of the is­sue, not just anec­do­tal ev­i­dence. If it is get­ting worse we have to con­sider the detri­men­tal ef­fect on the re­tail­ers and the wider com­mu­nity.’’

East­ern ward city councillor Wayne Poutoa is adamant, from his own ob­ser­va­tions and res­i­dents’ feed­back, that beg­ging is on the rise and a by­law is nec­es­sary.

‘‘I know it’s hard to monitor but it gives the peo­ple a right of re­ply. They’d not feel pres­sured to do this [give money] be­cause it is il­le­gal, and they can re­port it to po­lice.’’

As well as be­ing bad for busi­ness – up­set­ting both shop­keep­ers and the cus­tomers who are preyed upon as soon as they leave the store – Mr Poutoa is afraid the more preva­lent beg­ging be­comes, the more it may be viewed as a le­git­i­mate vo­ca­tion.

He de­scribed some beg­gars as ‘‘pro­fes­sion­als’’ who could make up to $100 a day.

‘‘The last thing I want is for peo­ple to see [beg­ging] as an op­tion.’’

Eric Jones, man­ager of Canopy Con­nec­tion, which rep­re­sents the in­ter­ests of CBD re­tail­ers, said beg­ging was an is­sue they have been dis­cussing for some time with po­lice and the coun­cil.

If po­lice were seek­ing a by­law, other meth­ods clearly were not work­ing, he said.

‘‘For most it is just an­noy­ing, but for some it can be in­tim­i­dat­ing. Some peo­ple are abused when they tell them [beg­gars] they don’t have funds to give away.’’

Re­ports from re­tail­ers and feed­back from their cus­tomers showed the sit­u­a­tion was get­ting worse.

‘‘You’re go­ing to be put off com­ing here if some­one is ask­ing for money while you stand over a money ma­chine.

‘‘There were al­ways one or two peo­ple with mental health car­ers do­ing it, but now there’s groups of youths.

‘‘Peo­ple should be able to go about their busi­ness with­out be­ing ap­proached.

‘‘We don’t want to see peo­ple keep away from the city cen­tre . . . We want to see that sort of thing stopped.

‘‘Whether this [a by­law] is the best way to try and do that, I don’t know.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.