Beggars prompt call for more police in Addington

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
A residents group will ask the Waihoro-Spreydon-Cashmere-Heathcote Community Board to advocate for a full-time community police officer in Addington.

The Addington Neighbourhood Association will send a letter to the board before the end of the month, asking it to request police fund the officer.

The move stemmed from a community meeting where concerned residents were invited to talk about the issues they face with crime, rough sleepers and beggars.

Said association treasurer Graham Robinson: “Problems include male and female beggars following residents along the footpath, waiting beside money machines, and waiting for residents to come in and out of shops or the mall.

“There are also people going to the sides of vehicles, opening vehicle doors, approaching shops, and knocking at houses (of elderly residents) during nighttime to ask for money.”

One meeting attendee said they witnessed a shop owner giving an individual goods “to get rid of him” after being hassled.

Christchurch City Mission community outreach officer Joshua Gardiner was a part of the guest panel at the neighbourhood association meeting, alongside Spreydon Ward city councillor Melanie Cocker and Wigram MP Megan Woods’ assistant Alex Hewison.

Said Gardiner: “This is known as aggressive begging and you need to call the police on 111 at the time or on 105, documenting problems as much as possible or by email later. 

“Some beggars are not homeless and businesses need to eliminate begging as soon as possible.”

Gardiner said he can be contacted directly by email at and would talk to the people causing problems should the community need it.

“The problem exists in all of Christchurch. A physical address is no longer needed to be able to receive the benefit. Some churches and agencies act on behalf of the homeless, as some have problems getting their own bank account,” he said.

“Several one-bedroom, boarding accommodation was wiped out by the earthquakes also.”

Other issues included homeless people using cafe toilets and leaving facilities in a mess, sleeping outside of private residencies, and using and discarding point bags and needles on the streets around the area. Cocker suggested the association provide a written question to the community board about funding an officer to patrol Addington.

“There is other work happening in the background like the community patrol; volunteers who observe and get the police to problem areas,” said Cocker.

Hewison told the residents to keep reporting any incidents as “the more reports there are of any problems, the more it shows where the problems are” and it “will eventually get changed.”

The panel also said people experiencing homelessness are sometimes ex-prisoners and often have no bank account and frequently live in cars as they cannot rent a property.

“Short-term homeless are less of a problem than long-term homeless. Police need to push them more towards social services. One suggestion could be to offer to call the Ministry of Social Development on behalf of the beggars, to get them some more help – they are likely to leave.

“Do not give them (beggars/homeless) money or food as this rewards their behaviour, causing the individuals to repeat it.

“Please look after other people in the community too, children and immigrant women are especially vulnerable. Positive communities work together better than negative ones.”