24 Sep 2014

Homeless banned from gathering

6:23 pm on 24 September 2014

People sleeping rough in abandoned buildings in Christchurch are being ordered to stay away from the people they were caught with.

Police have been issuing non-association orders to homeless people in Christchurch.

Police have been issuing non-association orders to homeless people in Christchurch. Photo: RNZ / Jemma Brackebush

Up to 10 homeless people were arrested over the weekend for being unlawfully in an abandoned building and were issued with non-association orders by the Christchurch District Court.

The homeless people say they know they're breaking the law but when bad weather hits, there's no where else to go.

Every Tuesday lunchtime and Thursday night the city's homeless gather to receive food, blankets and clothing from charities and volunteer groups.

But those issued with non-association orders, say it makes these gatherings hard because they are at risk of breaching the order and being arrested.

Police say the non-association order is to stop people committing crimes with the same group.

Charities give out food and clothing each week.

Charities give out food and clothing each week. Photo: RNZ / Jemma Brackebush

One young woman, who did not want to give her name, has been issued an order.

The teenager said she had spent two-and-a-half years on the street after falling out with family.

"I'm 18 years of age and I have to find a place by myself or I have to stay out on the streets by myself and that's hard being a girl. On top of that I've got to watch my safety".

Her new family are those she lives on the streets with, she said.

"One of the elders, Uncle, I've grown attached to. I really can't go without seeing him and making sure he's all right. Unfortunately I can't do that at the moment because we've got non-association orders and that goes for a lot of people out here".

She said people live in abandoned buildings because there's no where else to go.

"The police end up coming into the homes once we are there because we're not meant to be. They come and ask us our names, they process us, they end up figuring out who is actually allowed there and who isn't and from there we're taken to the central police station."

The woman appeared yesterday in Christchurch District Court with four others she had been living with in an abandoned building.

She said she did not know what her next step will be.

"It is daunting but things can get better".

Christchurch District prosecution manager Scott Richardson said the order did not mean people could not be eating a meal at the same park.

The central point of a non-association order is that people were not hanging out together and associating with the others.

"If the meal issue became a problem they can apply to the court for variations on their conditions that would allow them, but I couldn't see it being a problem," he said.

Homeless people on a Christchurch street.

Homeless people on a Christchurch street. Photo: RNZ / Jemma Brackebush