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Important changes proposed to Public Safety and Nuisance bylaw - what's your view? 

News story
Thursday 25 Oct 2018

We care about our city centre offering a safe and welcoming environment. Some of the ways we support this include CityWatch - which we co-fund with Auckland Council, this year doubling our investment to increase presence in our streets - constructive collaboration with NZ Police, and most recently, our Street Guardians pilot addressing begging in the city centre.

Auckland Council aims to support a safe and enjoyable city through their Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw, which is a set of rules to protect people from nuisance or unsafe behaviours and activities in public places and covers things such as general wilful obstruction or intimidation, loud noises and fireworks.

Council are currently asking for feedback on proposed changes to the bylaw, with consultation closing on 5 December.

We will be giving feedback on the proposal to council with a submission, and we'd like to hear views from city centre businesses. We've summarised some of the key proposed changes which city centre businesses will likely take an interest in below.

Key proposed changes to bylaw

  1. Amend clause 6 of the bylaw, renaming it to be ‘Bad behaviours prohibited in public places’.

This includes  an amendment of 6(1)(a) to read “A person must not use a public place to wilfully obstruct, disturb, interfere with, alarm, distress, intimidate or harm any other person in their use or enjoyment of that public place”.

The intent behind this change is to be able to better address nuisance or unsafe behaviours by clarifying expected behavior and restrictions on people using public places.

2. Remove the clause around the prohibition of “begging activity that intimidates and causes a nuisance”.

Council is proposing to remove references to begging activity from the bylaw. Instead, the bylaw intends to focus on the behaviours expected of all Aucklanders in public places, addressing bad behaviour regardless of who is causing it.

Any nuisance or intimidating behaviour could still be addressed by council with CityWatch using clause 6(1)(a) of the bylaw.

The council works with police to address this behaviour if it escalates to a criminal threshold.

Where appropriate, businesses will still be able to obtain trespass orders, and persistent offenders may be referred to the New Beginnings Court or face prosecution. 

We know that begging can make people feel uncomfortable and that businesses in the city centre would like to see it addressed. We get ongoing and regular feedback from businesses in the city centre who don’t expect to see this in our streets.

Whilst we don’t believe that anyone should have to beg on the street, we know this is a complex issue and cannot be solved with one simple solution. It is our view that alternatives such as our recently launched Street Guardians pilot are critical to addressing issues like begging.

3. Remove the clause “Offence to consume, inject, inhale, distribute, sell any mind altering substance in public”.

Auckland Council are recommending removing this as they advise that there is legislation in place to specifically address issues with psychoactive substances and any related potentially dangerous behavior, including the Psychoactive substances Act 2017, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and the Summary Offences Act 1981. 

The Summary Offences Act 1981 enables the New Zealand Police to address offensive and disorderly behaviour, obstruction and intimidation associated with the use of psychoactive substances. The Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 enables the New Zealand Police to address possession, distribution or offering to sell all psychoactive substances in a public places.

Council have removed this clause as they view that the issues are better addressed by the New Zealand Police using existing legislation. Council can still monitor complaints to provide information to the New Zealand Police.

Notwithstanding this, we have an ongoing concern about the impact that the consumption of synthetics has on our community and we would like to see urgent action taken to address this concerning issue.

Whilst we understand that a bylaw may not be an effective tool to manage this issue, we still want to see more done in this space from central government from both health and criminal perspectives. We will continue to seek solutions and call for action. 

Find out more

There is a lot more detail available on the council website, including full detail of all the proposed changes to the bylaw, FAQs and the opportunity to give feedback to council directly. 

Auckland Council is also hosting a drop in session where you can talk to staff about the proposal on Monday 19 November, 12.00 - 2.00pm at the Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne St.

What do you think?

We would like to know how city centre businesses feel about the proposed changes. We will be making a submission to council in December. 

Let us know what you’re thinking - take our quick survey here by 5pm on Friday 9 November.

If you’d prefer to discuss your views with us directly, please contact Tania Loveridge.

CityWatch team member JR John on Queen Street. Image: Heart of the City
JR John, one of the members of the CityWatch team. Say hi if you see him out and about!