Quiet un­der the canopies

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By MATTHEW DAL­LAS

Just as the weather has cooled, de­ter­ring street beg­gars from the city cen­tre, so too has the push for a by­law to stamp out the an­noy­ing and some­times in­tim­i­dat­ing ac­tiv­ity.

Ear­lier this year Kapi-Mana News re­ported the con­cerns of po­lice and busi­ness own­ers that there was a per­ceived in­crease in peo­ple beg­ging for money un­der the canopies in cen­tral Porirua and in Can­nons Creek.

Po­lice area com­man­der John Spence was par­tic­u­larly dis­tressed by ac­counts of packs of young peo­ple lurk­ing around ATM ma­chines, and ask­ing peo­ple for money in an in­tim­i­dat­ing fash­ion.

He had raised the no­tion of a anti-beg­ging by­law with mayor Nick Leggett to give po­lice more ‘‘ teeth’’, but it seems other meth­ods and a colder cli­mate have al­le­vi­ated the prob­lem.

‘‘ It’s qui­etened down. We’ve con­cen­trated on a cou­ple of young peo­ple, and one or two have been charged and it’s kept them out of the city cen­tre,’’ says Mr Spence.

‘‘The heat has gone out of it. We’ll look at it again over sum­mer. If we man­age to pick on the right peo­ple, we can nip it in the bud.’’

He con­sid­ers a by­law to out­law beg­ging an ‘‘ end of the line’’ op­tion that would re­quire a lot of work and red tape, whereas other, sim­pler meth­ods could prove to do the job.

Fol­low­ing the con­cerns raised in Fe­bru­ary, Mr Leggett says he con­vened a group of in­ter­ested par­ties, which met twice and has also taken steps to re­duce in­tim­i­dat­ing be­hav­iour in the CBD. The Porirua Cham­ber of Com­merce has in­creased the amount of ac­tiv­ity un­der the canopies, through events and pro­mo­tions, and the coun­cil’s re­cent re­newal and up­grade of se­cu­rity cam­eras was a di­rect re­sult of con­sul­ta­tion on the beg­ging is­sue.

‘‘With new cam­eras po­lice can step up the mon­i­tor­ing. And it cre­ates a level of con­tent­ment amongst the pub­lic know­ing some­one is watch­ing them.’’

He said schools had also come on board and would act upon any footage of stu­dents do­ing things they shouldn’t.

‘‘ It’s been great, no-one is shy­ing away, ev­ery­one is tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity. I’m re­ally pleased with the re­sponse so far.’’

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