The Prince Albert Police Service has concluded that there was no attempt to abduct a young child over the weekend at the South Hill Mall.
Following further investigation and interviews, police determined that while there was brief contact between the child and male subject, there was no evidence suggesting that the man tried to take or entice the child away from the parent who was present at the time.
When the incident occurred, the boy had run ahead of his mother and was sliding on the icy roadway as the male subjects were in the parking lot panhandling.
“Basically, we interviewed all the parties involved and just came to the conclusion that no charges will be laid at this point,” Const. Shawn Rowden said.
Police remind the public that timely reporting of such incidents is critical to investigations.
Shopping centre parking lots tend to be common sites for panhandling, though Rowden noted that the activity takes place in every part of the city.
“Panhandling, it’s a problem throughout,” he said.
“Certainly … we’d like to increase visibility, I guess, to that (South Hill Mall) location,” he added. “But we also have to realize that it’s kind of an everywhere problem.”
While the city does not have a law against panhandling per se, the Obstructive Solicitation Bylaw contains certain prohibitions against aggressive panhandlers and solicitors.
Basically, we interviewed all the parties involved and just came to the conclusion that no charges will be laid at this point. Const. Shawn Rowden
Specifically, the bylaw targets individuals who, in the process of soliciting, obstruct or impede the passage of pedestrians or vehicles, continue to solicit after receiving a negative response, verbally threaten or insult pedestrians, solicit pedestrians as part of a group of three or more, or who solicit a captive audience such as people stuck in an elevator, on public transit, while waiting in line, etc.
“Normally when it comes to panhandling, it’s people who are mostly requesting for money,” city bylaw manager Suzanne Stubbs said.
“So if you’re walking down the street and somebody will say to you, ‘Can I have a dollar?’ and you say no, but then they continue to harass you, then that would be considered soliciting you.”
If the actions of those involved in panhandling are found to be inappropriate or aggressive, members of the public may contact the police at (306) 953-4222.