Begging a problem in Riccarton

Now that youth issues have ceased at the Riccarton Bus Lounge, it seems police have
a different matter on their hands – beggars.

Riccarton Community Constable Aaron Thorn said he has seen an increase in beggars in the area over last couple of months.

He said some have been sitting outside businesses on Riccarton Rd and Division St and harassing people passing by.

“They’re [beggars] pestering people for money out of desperation I guess and for food,” Constable Thorn said.

He said some beggars are okay but there are others who “are pretty drugged up.”

“A lot of them are quite lost in their way through drugs, you can see it when you talk to them,” Constable Thorn said.

Police have been working with nearby businesses and the city council to solve the issue.

“We’ve had a pretty good response where they have actually moved on, there’s still one or two hanging about but our patrolling presence has increased,” he said.

No arrests have been made but Constable Thorn said there have been a couple of warnings issued.

He said businesses are “fed-up with what’s been going on.”

Constable Thorn said some beggars have been trespassed from Westfield Riccarton
after using its facilities to wash.

Westfield Riccarton centre manager Kirstie McNulty said beggars aren’t affecting business but the retail complex is working with authorities to make sure this doesn’t change.

She said a bylaw to ban beggars would help as long as it could be enforced.

City council head of strategic policy Helen Beaumont said a bylaw to address street begging has been considered previously but wasn’t “put forward to the city council as a viable approach.”

She said the city council “must be sure that the issue is serious enough to consider addressing through a bylaw and that a bylaw is practicable.”