Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ban Plan for the Chuggers; Moves to Drive the Charity Collectors from Our Streets

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ban Plan for the Chuggers; Moves to Drive the Charity Collectors from Our Streets

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

MOVES to crack down on charity street collectors who pester shoppers is planned, it was revealed today. So-called "charity muggers" or "chuggers" are exploiting a loophole in regulations meaning they can collect personal details and hound people for donations without a permit.

But council chiefs in Newcastle are hoping to introduce a bylaw to "minimise nuisance and protect the public from being intimidated and pressurised" into donating. They have grown tired of seeing shoppers harassed for money, which often goes straight into the pockets of agencies who collect signatures rather than hard-up charities, a report claims.

A paper compiled by the council details how the chuggers operate . For every signature, charities pay up to pounds 100 to agencies who send a fleet of collectors on to Newcastle's Northumberland Street and near Grey's Monument. It's claimed nationally 750,000 people provide an annual contribution of just pounds 90 each.

Fears have also been raised that charity workers could drive shoppers out of the city centre to private shopping complexes where it is illegal for chuggers to operate.

Now council chiefs want to introduce a bylaw to clamp down on those who collect contact information with a view to contacting them for cash at a later date, or "prospecting".

Stephen Savage, the council's director of regulatory services and public protection, said: "Initially the chuggers signed members of the public up to direct debit charity donations, requiring a street collection permit.

"However, in recent years in Newcastle, possibly as a result of our enforcement position, their operation has changed in that they do not sign members of the public up for direct debits, but simply ask for details with a view to sending the person information at a later date, presumably with a request to sign up to a direct debit."

In council papers Mr Savage vowed to stamp out those who flout the law and said: The council would prosecute those who collect direct debits without having the proper permit Collectors had turned to gathering contact information to avoid prosecution Fears had been raised over the use of text message donations, where the sum is added to the phone bill. …

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