Rough sleepers found in Napier storefronts may be trespassed

Napier City Council says it will trespass rough sleepers found in store doorways if shopkeepers ask it to. (File photo)
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Napier City Council says it will trespass rough sleepers found in store doorways if shopkeepers ask it to. (File photo)

Rough sleepers sheltering in Napier shopfronts could be issued with trespass notices in the city council's latest efforts to deal with disorderly behaviour by homeless people in the CBD.

The council has been fielding complaints for several months about a small group of homeless people who have been begging in the central city and intimidating shoppers and store workers.

It recently stepped up security patrols in the CBD and this week told retailers its security staff could issue trespass notices to rough sleepers found in shop doorways and alcoves.

"If you are finding that this is an issue for your business, we are happy to issue notices on your behalf as part of the [security patrol] programme," council community strategies manager Natasha Carswell said in an email sent to city businesses.

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Shopkeepers were invited to sign a form letter authorising the council to issue trespass notices on their behalf.

"If these orders are issued and the person continues to be on the premises without consent, the police can enforce the trespass order," Carswell told the retailers.

The notices could only be issued in relation to private property and could not be used where people were found sleeping in public areas such as footpaths.

Earlier this year three beggars appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to breaching council bylaws that prohibit unauthorised soliciting for money in the city.

But police said last week they were dropping the charges, with the council saying it did not believe court action was the appropriate way to address the begging issue.

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Carswell said on Tuesday the bylaw matter was "quite different" from proposed use of trespass orders.

"There have been ongoing issues with mess and gear being left at various locations with people repeatedly sleeping or congregating at business sites and in parks."

Security staff would be able to issue trespass notices if this continued, she said.

Under the council's new "street management programme" security staff had been patrolling in pairs at random times, both day and night, with an average of about five patrols carried out over a 24-hour period.

 - Stuff

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