According to Garner, banning beggars won’t work

Let’s ban begging from city streets and punish those well-meaning citizens who also want to help the poor.

It sounds like a dirty little secret of a police state, but no it’s just cheap and desperate local body antics from Wellington mayoral candidate Nicola Young and Auckland candidate Mark Thomas.

Never mind both their National Party links – this is their uninspiring handy work.

So I have a message for them: Good luck. It won’t work.Name one place where begging bans are effective? No-one can.

Even the latest $50,000 Wellington council report into begging says it’s hard to point to where any bans have been successful.

They looked seriously at this in Norway and most towns didn’t bother and the government ended up getting cold feet anyway. Imagine punishing someone for giving $10 to a beggar? Some activists would gladly go to jail to make a point.

Most cities I have been to around the world have beggars. I have seen more of them in Wellington, Auckland and Washington DC than anywhere else I have been. And it’s true Wellington has a growing issue.

But if you ban begging in the cities the beggars just move to the next road or corner. I have seen this in Auckland with the rise and rise of suburban beggars.

I now see them at my local shops. Last year I gave a guy called Michael $50, but I also encouraged him to go to Work and Income, sign up for the dole and get some help seeking a job.

It was part of the deal when I flicked him the cash. He was a polite bullshitter.

I saw him two weeks later – when he asked me for more money. I asked for his case manager’s name at Winz and his case number. He tried more lies on me and then admitted he hadn’t bothered going there.

Of course he hadn’t. I deal with professional bullshitters on a daily basis. This guy was an amateur.

I get Garner’s point that banning doesn’t do anything by itself.  We’ve banned smacking for example, and that’s not stopped the dreadful abuse and killing of children in this country.

But banning does empower police to remove nuisance beggars from shops and streets.  I’ve watched one work a drive-through asking for money as he went down the line of cars.

Once again, the secret lies in enforcement.  I’m with Garner that there will be absolutely no point in banning begging unless there is enforcement.

Taking them off the street and processing them through Winz on the other hand would be a good start. Let’s get them into the system, rather than walk past them and wait for Garner and his ilk to mete out social lessons that will validate his ego but actually does nothing for the person he deals with.

He gave $50 to someone on the basis they’d go to Winz.

It’s a free country but, I tell you what, if there are dumb marks (sorry, professional bullshit detectors) like Garner handing out $50 at a time, no wonder we have a problem with people harassing our women, children and elderly for money.

I was in Napier a while ago when I told a beggar I wasn’t going to give him anything. About a minute later, another one comes to my vehicle, bangs on the window, looks at me, and says “I just wanted to see what sort of c**t you were.”

Garner thinks that banning that doesn’t stop it, and he’s right. But doing nothing at all will simply make it a bigger problem.

He may be happy to hand out life lessons at $50 at a time. I’m not that comfortable with a New Zealand where elderly,  family and their children are harassed by these people. We don’t all have $50 to give away every time we are approached for money, nor do we have the skill or inclination to act like social workers.

Step one, ban it. Step two, get police to enforce removal. Step three, get them into the system and work on getting them off the street that way. Step four, if they are recidivists, then lock them up in a residential care facility.

I challenge Garner to tell me what’s wrong with that.

Banning is the first step to give powers to the police to remove them and drop them off at social agencies that are resourced, skilled and intended to deal with people like this.

 

– Stuff

 

 


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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