Mall operators battle anti-social behaviour

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014
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A video has emerged online of a group of youths fighting outside Bayfair Shopping Centre near Tauranga and then verbally abusing a motorist.

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Shopping mall operators are continuing their fight against anti-social youths causing trouble outside their centres.

A video has emerged online of a group of youths fighting outside Bayfair Shopping Centre near Tauranga and then verbally abusing a motorist.

Bayfair Shopping Centre manager Steve Ellingford has announced a new task force and measures to make the Bayfair community a safe environment for all.

However, Bayfair was not the first shopping centre to have problems with anti-social youths, nor will it be the last.

Other centres have been working to curb anti-social behaviour for years.

Westfield, which operates nine shopping malls across Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, has had a youth protocol in place for about a decade.

Westfield national public relations manager Deb McGhie said after problems with youths at the Hamilton Westfield, it identified that by working with youth in particular schools it could share behavioural expectations.

"The original protocol came out of our participation as a shopping centre owner in the Hamilton Region and then we worked with the local community groups thereafter in the areas our centres operate," McGhie said.

The protocol covered a wide range of incidents, from minor scuffles to criminal behaviour, she said.

The police have helped Westfield develop the protocol in several areas, McGhie said.

"It for us was more about being proactive rather than reactive."

It was now standard practice for Westfield to talk with schools and share what was expected when youths entered Westfield shopping malls, McGhie said.

Although the protocol was working, incidents still occurred occasionally.

"We do our best to deliver a safe and enjoyable environment for shoppers and retailers," McGhie said.

"Any anti-social behaviour or indeed any inappropriate behaviour from any person of any age may result in a trespass being issued."

Coastlands Shopping Centre, just outside Wellington, in 2005 implemented a ban on people wearing their hoods up in an attempt to counteract shoplifters.

It was believed to be a success.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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