Committee lobbies for greater power on begging

Last Updated : 13 May 2016

An update on begging in the central city has been presented to council’s Regulatory and Bylaws Committee, along with possible actions to help reduce nuisance begging.

As a result, the committee has approved to advocate central government for infringement powers and increased social provision. This means those begging in an aggressive or intimidating manner could receive instant fines.

Councillor Calum Penrose, Regulatory and Bylaws Committee Chair says this would give warranted officers the ability to deal with those found to be in breach of the bylaw, as well as helping compliance with the bylaw.

“Infringement notices would give us a tool we can use that is quick and avoid the time and cost associated with prosecuting beggars found in breach of the bylaw through the normal court process.

“An infringement fine may also help to incentivise the use of the New Beginnings Court, as those who can’t pay fines may decide to opt in.”

The Regulatory and Bylaws Committee also agreed to maintain the City Watch patrols, commenting on the good work and rapport between them and both homeless and beggars on the street, as well as investigate opportunities to improve operational practices.

It was also agreed to review the Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw 2013 at an early date, rather than in 2017/18 as originally scheduled.

Council’s Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw was adopted in May 2014 and specifically covers begging, stating that a person must not use a public place to beg in a manner that may intimidate or cause a nuisance. The intent of the bylaw is not to ban begging.

The bylaw generally seeks to protect the public from nuisance; promote and maintain public health and safety; and minimise the potential for offensive behaviour in public places.

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