3 Dec 2009

Auckland city street patrols stepped up

5:19 pm on 3 December 2009

Private security patrols in the Auckland city centre are being stepped up this summer despite criticism the scheme will punish marginalised and homeless people.

The Auckland City Council has voted to spend up to $200,000 on the Walkwise scheme, aimed at addressing problems caused by anti-social behaviour at night and people sleeping rough.

The community services committee chairperson, Paul Goldsmith, says it's behaviour, not people, that the patrols are targeting and the council will take stock of the extended programme at the end of the summer.

He says Auckland city is playing its role in the Homeless Action Plan alongside the Government, charities and other agencies.

Heavy-handed approach, says councillor

Labour councillor Richard Northey says the council is being heavy-handed in its approach to the homeless by moving people on, and the cost of any patrols should be met by businesses.

He says many problems could be prevented by tightening regulation of city centre licensed premises.

The Auckland City Mission for its part is welcoming the increase in patrols. City Missioner Diane Robertson says its outreach workers often accompany the patrols and she thinks they are working well.