Knives out for Porirua beg­gars


Porirua is mulling a ban on beg­gars amid fears that syn­thetic cannabis use is mak­ing the city’s pan­han­dlers more vi­o­lent.

Mayor Mike Tana said he would ‘‘do what it takes’’ to stop es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions be­tween re­tail­ers, shop­pers and peo­ple who beg out­side Can­nons Creek Shop­ping Cen­tre in the city’s east.

‘‘If zon­ing it out is go­ing to be the only op­tion then that’s what we’ll do. We’re look­ing at it now,’’ he said.

Whether Porirua City Coun­cil would make a city-wide by­law, tres­pass peo­ple beg­ging for money in Can­nons Creek or make a ‘‘beg­ging zone’’ was not yet known, he said.

Welling­ton City Coun­cil con­sid­ered, then dis­counted, a beg­ging by­law in 2016, but Auck­land’s by­law passed in 2013.

Can­nons Creek con­sta­ble Andy Alexan­der said a ban would be good news for po­lice.

‘‘Beg­ging is the bane of our life and goes hand in hand with syn­thetic cannabis use,’’ he said.

‘‘We have the mir­ror im­age of the Auck­land is­sue [syn­thetic drug users beg­ging for cash] down here - that’s what our fear is.’’

Seki-A Su­per Value Su­per­mar­ket own­ers Gur­jeet, Prith­pai and Deep Singh said a per­son beg­ging was threat­ened with a knife and a wo­man robbed last week­end.

Po­lice couldn’t con­firm the in­ci­dent, but Prith­pai said it wasn’t un­com­mon for vi­o­lence to ex­plode out­side his shop.

‘‘A guy’s mum was ha­rassed for money and the guy turned up to stab the beg­gar. Some­one will die.

‘‘We’ve seen [the beg­gars] knocked out, but they ... come back, they don’t care,’’ he said.

The Singhs said their busi­ness had suf­fered as chil­dren were hus­tled for their lolly money and cus­tomers stayed away.

An­other busi­ness owner, who didn’t want to be named, said po­lice were help­ful but coun­cil needed to step in to help its busi­ness com­mu­nity.

The peo­ple beg­ging were of­ten around un­til mid­night, he said.

Last Tues­day, a man beg­ging for money said he had a right to be there.

‘‘I use the money for syns [syn­thetic drugs], I’m not hurt­ing any­one by ask­ing them.’’

When he was given food by wellmean­ing mem­bers of the public he tried to re­turn it to the shop in ex­change for money, he said.

On Fri­day, a shopper at the cen­tre said the beg­ging was bad for the com­mu­nity as well as busi­ness.

‘‘If the shops close we’ll have noth­ing here in Can­nons Creek. They could ruin it for us all.’’

Sergeant Matiu Grant said de­spite a de­crease af­ter last year’s cam­paign to dis­cour­age them, beg­gars had re­turned over the hol­i­day pe­riod. In­tim­i­da­tion or heavy­handed tac­tics should be re­ported to po­lice im­me­di­ately.

‘‘As hard as it is to say no some­times, do not give your hard earned money to peo­ple beg­ging for it. There are other op­tions for them to get the as­sis­tance they need.’’

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