The Regina Police Service is working proactively with business owners to help address the issue of unwanted guests on their property. The Trespass to Property Initiative allows businesses to ban individuals who repeatedly cause problems on their property by being intoxicated, harassing customers, shoplifting, panhandling, etc. The process is allowed under current legislation and once a person is banned, police officers can issue Summary Offence tickets to those who ignore the ban. This initiative allows businesses to proactively deal with ongoing problem patrons.
In the last two years, the Regina Police Service dealt with over 5600 calls in the downtown area alone that could be classified under the umbrella of an “unwanted guest”. These calls included fights, intoxicated persons, suspicious persons, shoplifting and unwanted guests. Up until 2012, police officers could deal with unwanted guests on private property with the Assault by Trespass Section of the Criminal Code. This Section allowed officers to arrest and charge “unwanted guests” with assault if they refused to leave private property after being asked to do so by the owner. In 2012, that law was repealed. Police had also previously used the “Tag Day Bylaw” to deal with people who were aggressively pan-handling in the city. That Bylaw was removed by City Council in 2009 after several other cities had similar legislation struck down as unconstitutional.
The Trespass to Property Act is existing provincial legislation. In order for police to issue a ticket under this legislation, there are certain criteria that must be met:
- The business must have a customized ban form.
- The person has to be banned for a specified period of time.
- The “activity” that lead to the ban must be described.
- The business owner or employee has to make attempts to identify the person: ask for identification, have video surveillance, photos, etc.
If the banned person does re-attend to the business, the police can issue them a ticket for “entering a premise when entry is prohibited” under the Trespass Legislation. This ticket has a voluntary payment option of $250.00. It is hoped that this ticket will help to remind people that bans need to be taken seriously.
The Regina Police Service has been educating businesses about the Trespass to Property legislation. This is a great way for business owners and police to work together to reduce or eliminate repeat, unwanted guests.