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Spare Change or Real Change

Give to those who will make a REAL difference.

Begging is a growing concern for the Napier community. Seeing someone begging can cause a range of emotions, from frustration to sadness. 

It is natural to want to help - but often, people don’t know what to do. The “Spare Change or Real Change” campaign encourages people to give to those who are best placed to help people in need. 

Often giving money to beggars keeps them trapped in a cycle of begging and keeps them from accessing long term sustainable support from agencies. We aim to change this. 

Begging is a concern for Napier City Council, retailers and the wider Napier community. Seeing someone begging can cause a range of emotions from frustration to sadness.

It is natural to want to help - but often people don’t know what to do. The “Spare Change or Real Change” campaign encourages people to give to those who are best placed to help people in need.

Giving money to beggars keeps them trapped in a cycle of begging and keeps them from accessing long term sustainable support from agencies. Research has also shown that begging is often a means to support addictions.

People beg because they know people will give. If you want to offer support, there are local agencies that can provide long term solutions. If you want to donate to these agencies, you can find a list here.  However, this campaign is not about asking people to give money to charities, but offering that as an alternative to giving money to beggars.

Begging, or asking people for money is legal, unless there is a council bylaw against it. All people have the right to freedom of movement. Councils must respect that right and be careful about how they restrict human rights through bylaws. Using a bylaw to ban begging can be impractical to enforce, and doesn’t stop begging

The usual deterrents to law-breaking, such as fines or prosecution, don’t often work on people who beg. Beggars are less likely to come to Court, are unable to pay fines, and often return to begging or may move to another area to beg, which doesn’t fix the problem. People who beg are more likely to have complex health and addiction problems, so prosecuting them for breaking the law doesn’t stop or change why they are begging.

We believe that it is the anti-social behaviour of some beggars that causes problems for retailers and the community 

Behaviours that annoy, inconvenience, intimidate, are dangerous or injurious, or cause a nuisance are already covered by our Public Places Bylaw. Disorderly and offensive behaviour or obstructing a public thoroughfare are covered by the Summary Offences Act 1981. Police can enforce the Public Places Bylaw and they can charge people under the Summary Offences Act.

For more information about the legalities of begging visit: https://communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/chapter-27-neighbourhood-life/begging-busking-and-sleeping-rough/

That said, we do not need to put up with unlawful behaviour. You should ring the Police as they are best placed to respond to this behaviour in the first instance.

Napier City Council is developing a City Ambassador service to improve public safety in Napier’s commercial centres. This is in response to increased anti-social behaviour associated with rough sleeping and begging. The service has been co-designed with other agencies including NZ Police, Whatever It Takes Trust, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, business associations and Māori wardens. This new service will complement existing community (vehicle) patrols and other community services currently operating in Napier and will replace the current CBD patrols (security foot patrols).

A CCTV network updgrade is also being developed. Our recent Community Safety Survey shows a high level of support for CCTV cameras in public places. The network will also use mobile technology so we can be responsive to crime ‘hot spots’. The CCTV upgrade will happen alongside the new City Ambassador service so they complement each other.

We work closely with Napier businesses and have been able to deploy the current patrols to areas of concern. We will be encouraging retailers to display posters, flyers and business cards that discourage people from giving money to beggars, and to encourage them to give to organisations who are best placed to help (if they feel they want to give money).

For safety concerns

Please notify the Police about any criminal matters or safety concerns.
For emergencies, call 111
To report issues that don’t require urgent Police assistance call 105 or visit 105.police.govt.nz

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