Napier mayor Bill Dalton has criticised police and Hawke's Bay District Health Board for not providing enough resources to address a growing begging problem in the city.
In a Talking Point Hawke's Bay Today column, councillor Tania Wright expressed a need for a coordinated approach to begging from people in Napier's CBD, many of whom had been left homeless due to drug addiction and mental health issues.
Responding to Ms Wright's piece, Mr Dalton said Napier City Council had been doing everything it could to address the "serious" problem, including working with other organisations to find a long-term solution but, in the short-term, police and HBDHB needed to provide more resources.
"Rest assured that the whole of NCC takes this extremely seriously, the last thing we want is beggars and drug addicts on our streets," he said.
However, police were the only ones with the power and training to remove these people and put them into the justice system where they could be referred to mental health and addiction services run by HBDHB, Mr Dalton said
"Hawke's Bay is grossly inadequately served in terms of mental health and addiction services; there's simply not enough expertise and not enough funding to deal with those people."
The Government provides funding to these organisations, and while there may not be enough, it is the head of the local DHB and police that decide where the money is spent, he said.
Mr Dalton plans to meet new Eastern District Police commander Inspector Tania Kura to explain the problem and ask for help.
The police on the ground were doing a good job but there were just not enough of them, he said.
HBDHB chief executive Kevin Snee said he had a brief discussion with Mr Dalton yesterday and was happy to meet him to discuss the issue further.
However, solving the complex issue was not a health problem alone and needed collaboration from a number of agencies and organisations, including council.
Councillor Tania Wright said she had anecdotal evidence that retailers were struggling due to people staying away from the CBD because of beggars.
The national housing crisis, under-resourced mental health and addiction services and growing drug use and supply were all to blame, she said.
Acting Area Commander Inspector Matt Broderick said police assessed deployment plans daily to ensure staff are where the demand is.
Police continue to work with the council and relevant social agencies to provide assistance and support to address the issues that motivate people to beg.
While police and council prefer to work with these people to get them the assistance they need, if they intimidate or threaten public, police will take action.