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Auckland City Council has voted to extend a ban on rough sleeping in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.
Under the city's Homeless Action Plan, security units with the power to move rough sleepers have been patrolling the city centre since the start of the year in a bid to cut antisocial behaviour by 50 per cent.
Officials in New Zealand's capital, which has a high number of rough sleepers for a city of its size, were quick to deny allegations. Betty MacLean, safety adviser for the council, said: "There is no intention of targeting the homeless in any way while the Rugby World Cup is being held in New Zealand."
But anecdotal evidence and increasing numbers seeking permanent accommodation from the City Mission indicate a rise in the number of people being moved on.
John McCarthy, manager at charity Lifewise, said: "The Council's concerns about the 'antisocial' behaviour of some homeless people has escalated ahead of the Rugby World Cup event next year.
"Unfortunately, some in the council frequently equate 'antisocial' behaviour with homelessness," he added. "Simply adopting a law enforcement approach whereby homeless people are moved along the street, will not address the overall issue of homelessness."