16 Sep 2015

Windscreen-washers run by gangs - police

6:47 pm on 16 September 2015

Christchurch police say the growing number of street windscreen-washers are being run by gangs and they want the authority to seize equipment and prosecute them.

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Photo: 123RF

There has been a rise in the number of washers over the past three years, and a significant increase in complaints, according to the Christchurch Council.

A report prepared for a council committee meeting tomorrow said police had observed known gang members running the windscreen washers.

It said the windscreen washers were mostly schoolchildren, who had limited family support.

The report recommended the Council give police authority to seize equipment and prosecute windscreen washers around the city under the council's public places bylaw.

The Auckland Council recently extended a crackdown on windscreen washers at busy intersections, saying it was getting about 40 complaints a month from frustrated motorists.

Sergeant Todd Webley told Radio New Zealand there was a law that could be pursued involving loitering on a road, but the penalty was light and it was also ineffective at deterring this type of behaviour.

He said gang members had been seen going up to the window washers, who are generally youths, and handing over pocketfuls of cash.

"So it appears they are being taxed by the gangs," he said.

"On other occasions people are window washing and they are being kicked off by other people who are wearing [gang] colours, who are known gang members," he said.

Mr Webley said some people say it is great that at least the window washers are looking for something to do, and were trying to make something of themselves.

But he said behaviour with window washing was affecting businesses in the area and drivers.