Quiet under the canopies
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.’’