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Regina stores ban 650 people under trespassing law

A law to crack down on trespassers in Regina stores has resulted in hundreds of people being banned, a report says.

Police, mayor say law isn't targeting homeless people

Regina police say a law that helps stores ban unwanted guests is not targetting homeless people. (Aldo Columpsi/CBC)

A law to crack down on trespassers in Regina stores has resulted in 651 people being banned since 2015, a report says.

Two years ago, city police started using the Trespass to Property Act to deal with unwanted guests in stores and restaurants.

That happened after concerns were raised by a number of businesses that they were having problems with people being intoxicated, harassing paying customers, shoplifting or aggressively panhandling.

The act allows businesses to hand out official ban notifications to those they consider repeat offenders.

If the ban doesn't work, police can step in, charge people under the act and give them tickets.

Since February 2015, there have been more than 600 people banned, but in only a minority of cases — 84 — have they violated the ban and been ticketed.

According to a report submitted Wednesday at the board of police commissioners meeting, most of the time the act is being used to deal with shoplifters. Almost 92 per cent of the ban orders went to alleged shoplifters in "big box" stores and other retail locations.

Homeless not targeted: mayor

Mayor Michael Fougere said the initiative seems to be working well.

"It is successful," he said. "It is not the only tool in the tool box but you use this act as opposed to charging with criminal activity, which no one wants to do. It's a way to reduce that impact."

Homeless people are not targeted by the act, Fougere said.

On the contrary, some people have received help finding a place to stay, he said.

"If they need shelter or if they're having some difficulties, they're not left alone," he said. "So it speaks to the homeless initiative that the city is working on ..."