Saturday, May 20, 2017

Criminalising Begging

TIn the New Zealand town of Napier, three beggars are likely to become the centre of a test case over councils' use of criminal law to outlaw  begging. Napier City Council began foot patrols of the city in March as part of a campaign to deter donors from giving beggars money.

Myles Hemopo, 40, Major Keelan, 47, and Turei Cooper, 31, who are often seen sitting with cardboard signs in the city centre, appeared before two justices of the peace in Napier District Court.

Criminology lecturer Ronald Kramer, of Auckland University, said after the hearing that using criminal law to address problems such as homelessness and poverty would only make them worse.
"I don't think it has any deterrent value at all. The only thing it will do is push the problems somewhere else, or encourage it to take different forms."
He did not believe Napier City Council was concerned with poverty at all, but about preserving businesses interests, and cleaning up the streets so middle-class consumers did not find them offensive. Hauling beggars before the courts was putting "a very poor Band-Aid on a very deep wound. It's a superficial solution to a deeply ingrained social problem".
Victoria University senior law lecturer Dean Knight said it was possible using the bylaw against soliciting to crack down on beggars could be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.

World Socialist Party (New Zealand)

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