'Chuggers' face new restrictions on their high street tactics


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The Independent Online

Charity collectors are no longer allowed to chase people down the high street or linger outside shop entrances under new rules intended to crack down on anti-social "chuggers".

Fundraising organisations face £1,000 fines if their workers follow shoppers down the street for more than three steps.

The new rules, developed by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, also mean that fundraisers are no longer allowed to stand within three metres of shop doorways, pedestrian crossings, cashpoints or train and bus station entrances.

Nor can they approach members of the public deemed to be "on duty" or working. They are also barred from working on sites booked by other fundraisers.

And fundraisers have been told they must be open about how much their firm is paid to carry out the work.

The changes, which come into force this week, will doubtless be popular with shoppers who routinely have to cross the road to avoid the so-called "charity muggers". But others fear that a valuable source of funding for charities could be choked off by the new rules.

The tightened policies come after a series of exposés of the tactics used by some street fundraisers, including pretending passers-by have dropped something on the pavement to get their attention and make them stop.

Each transgression incurs a set number of penalty points for the organisation. After a minimum threshold of 1,000 penalty points is reached, the organisation is fined at a rate of £1 per point.

Yesterday one street fundraiser interviewed by i, a 33-year-old who gave his name as Max, said the new regulations were a sign of the PFRA attempting to "phase out street fundraising, because we're not exactly the most popular people".

He said that in-house charitable organisations would be hardest hit if they breached the rules, while large-scale agencies can allow for financial penalties because they have greater economic resources.

But the tighter rules have been welcomed by the Institute for Fundraising. In a statement, the institute's chief executive, Peter Lewis, said: "We are unified in our mission to maintain public trust in charities so that fundraisers can continue to raise much-needed funds."

A BBC investigation in 2010 found that charities pay an average of £100 for every signature obtained by face-to-face fundraising firms. This premium is split between the "chuggers" and their employers.