Teens sleep­ing rough

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Groups of teenage boys are sleep­ing rough in bushes and carparks in Porirua’s CBD, drink­ing, tag­ging and bur­gling shops un­der the canopies.

The prob­lem is not new, but is linked to a re­cent spate of bur­glar­ies un­der the canopies, where 20 shops were bro­ken into in a week.

The cul­prits tended to be young men and boys in groups of be­tween two and five, Porirua Com­mu­nity Guardians man­ager Terry Ryan said.

Pop­u­lar doss­ing spots in­clude on roofs of canopies busi­nesses, in nearby carparks and bushes, un­der bridges and over­passes and next to Porirua Stream.

Mr Ryan said that in the morn­ing he of­ten found empty al­co­hol cans and bot­tles, bed­ding, clothes and some­times stolen goods in those places.

The boys were not home­less, but chose to sleep rough on oc­ca­sion, Mr Ryan said.

‘‘ They have homes, but they’re for­sak­ing a bed for this.’’

A coun­cil bylaw bans sleep­ing or camp­ing in pub­lic places not set aside for that pur­pose.

To dis­cour­age the be­hav­iour Mr Ryan will douse card­board box sleep­ing mats with wa­ter, and in­form po­lice.

‘‘Our role is not law and or­der, but to help peo­ple,’’ Mr Ryan said.

Porirua po­lice in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer Carl Kennedy said the prob­lem was not in­creas­ing, and fluc­tu­ated in sever­ity.

The po­lice usu­ally heard about in­ci­dents from groups like the Guardians and then re­sponded, Mr Kennedy said.

He could not elab­o­rate on how of­fi­cers tack­led the prob­lem, apart from say­ing their ap­proach was pre­ven­ta­tive.

‘‘If there’s a po­ten­tial risk of of­fend­ing as a re­sult, we want to re­duce that op­por­tu­nity.’’

Mayor Nick Leggett said he had not been aware of the prob­lem, but was keen to speak to other agen­cies about it.

‘‘We just need to get heads around the ta­ble,’’ he said.

‘‘Nat­u­rally we’re con­cerned about peo­ple sleep­ing in pub­lic places.

‘‘That’s some­thing the coun­cil needs to be aware of. We need to work with other agen­cies to make sure th­ese kids are safe.’’

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Bush bed: A typ­i­cal spot near Porirua’s CBD where teenage boys sleep rough, drink and cause trou­ble.

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