Give Wisely message working

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 20/12/2012

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A campaign to deter people from begging on the streets of Palmerston North appears to have worked, with police reporting fewer sightings of beggars in the past week.

The Give Wisely campaign was launched on Wednesday last week by the Palmerston North Safety Advisory Board, which includes the city council and police, in an effort to discourage people from giving money to beggars.

Posters with the "Give Wisely" message were handed out to shops in affected areas on Broadway Ave, around The Square and outside The Plaza asking people to give to charities rather than beggars.

About 10 regular beggars were identified and, according to police, all of them were under the care of the welfare or mental health system, sometimes both.

Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin said extra patrols out in the central business district since the campaign was launched had reported seeing fewer beggars on the streets.

They spoke to one beggar on Tuesday who was aware of the campaign and had moved from his regular haunt on Broadway Ave to outside Te Manawa.

He told police he had been sitting for about 20 minutes and no-one had given him any money.

He said he was aware of what he could and could not do while begging, like approaching people or intimidating them.

The campaign would be ongoing.

There were more posters available at the station and if retailers wanted a poster they could call and police would bring them down, he said.

Prior to the campaign, police had received reports of beggars intimidating people, targeting parking meters to see if they could get any change out of them, turning down offers of food in favour of money, and making up to $700 a week.

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- Manawatu Standard

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