Shopkeepers begging government to stop begging


A nationwide retail group says a broad Government approach is needed to solve begging – not a ban.

Managing director of First Retail Group Chris Wilkinson said their clients all agree action must be taken to reduce the impact of begging on the commercial sector. He said the Government must take a cross-agency approach to combat it.

“It’s really a central government issue, mainly because of the proliferation of begging around the country, and where it stems back to – in many cases it’s mental health issues and housing issues.”

Auckland’s Heart of the City retail association recently said 93 per cent of 300 of their members wanted more done to prevent begging in the city.

You can’t walk anywhere is most New Zealand towns and cities without someone hassling you for a smoke or money. ?This isn’t the New Zealand anyone wants. ?So what are the real solutions? ?

“People need to stop giving – that’s a big problem – and channel their funds to help the support organisations that are best placed to help,” he said.

“Secondly, central government support [is needed] for mental health, addiction and debt management.

“Third: a roof over people’s heads – they need somewhere warm and safe.

“Finally, a better balance of city centre guardianship, so we actually need to make sure politicians balance their social responsibility with commercial responsibility.”

Wilkinson said their clients around the country felt similar to the attitudes held in Auckland.

“Any commercial sector is vulnerable, but retail is particularly vulnerable, and so is the hospitality sector.”

I think the first step is to weed out the lifestylers that drive up, do it, and then go home to their dry home and family. ? Begging needs a license. ?It is effectively no different from the Red Cross wanting money off you as you enter the Warehouse.

No license? ?You get processed into the system. They get your back story and your details. ?If it turns out you are just trying to augment your benefit with some tax free dollars, there will be some nice PD in it for you on your third and subsequent offence. ?Gorse and blackberry need clearing all the time.

Which leaves the genuine cases with substance abuse and mental health issues. ?These people frequently live on the street by choice. ?They are not going to self-manage their own problems. ?Even if they are able to sleep at an emergency shelter, they will be out begging the next day and continuing the cycle of substance abuse.

Those people need to enter a custodial treatment facility which will allow them to kick their addictions and work on their thinking. ? Once freed from the demons in the bottle or whatever their choice of drugs, a number can then function normally, and those are our winners.

Sadly, there will be those that fail the last step. ?For them we do need a place to stay where they are treated and kept and perhaps regularly tested for release. ?But if they aren’t suitable, it’s much kinder to look after them.


– NZ Herald