Wellington considers banning beggars, fining donators

  • 06/04/2016

A report on begging in Wellington suggests banning it or fining people who give to beggars, but city councillors aren't keen on the idea.

The independent report, commissioned by Wellington City Council, will be discussed by a council committee next Wednesday, when the council will look at a range of ways to combat the problem.

It follows an analysis of begging in Wellington including interviews with beggars, retailers and businesspeople, members of the public and those who work with the begging community.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said begging was an important issue but criminalising it wouldn't solve anything.

"Begging is a symptom of wider issues - lack of mental health services, people's addictions and lack of joined-up programmes when people are paroled from prison without housing options being sorted," she said.

"It also detracts from the look and feel of the city."

She favoured increasing housing supply and funding the night shelter to be open in the daytime, over a ban on begging.

Councillor Paul Eagle said a begging bylaw would be a failure, and the problem would simply move to another part of the city and across the region.

The report found begging is effective in Wellington, as enough people feel good about giving to beggars.

However it's seen as a growing problem and calls to the police and the council express concern about welfare of those begging and public safety.