Croydon becomes 100th council to ban 'chuggers'

After complaints from businesses and shoppers

Croydon stock

Croydon Council has introduced a near-ban on charity fund-raisers, or 'chuggers' - the 100th council to do so.

Following complaints from local businesses, it has decided to restrict the number to five a day after concerns that shoppers were being unreasonably hassled.

"In our 2014 survey of consumer perceptions of Croydon town centre, 59% of the 400 people surveyed said the issue of charity collectors out on the street required improving in the town centre," says Matthew Sims, chairman of the Croydon Business Improvement District (BID).

"Similarly, businesses identified this as a priority area for improving."

Under the new rules, only five direct-debit fundraisers will be allowed to operate on any given day, within two carefully controlled zones in the North End town centre area. Fund-raising will be restricted to Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 9am and 7pm.

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) says it is pleased by the decision.

"It is an effective and balanced way of regulating fundraising on the High Street, allowing charities to raise money for good causes, but at the same time protecting the public," says PFRA chief executive Peter Hills-Jones.

"People complain that they often feel confronted when they are out shopping and agreements such as this ensure that fundraisers are sensitive to this in terms of where they position themselves and the number of days and people involved in fundraising."

Back in 2012, Lord Hodgson challenged charities to demonstrate that they could self-regulate their fundraising activity effectively, without the need for legal reform.

Under the current regime, chuggers aren't allowed to follow a person for more than three steps or stand within three metres of a shop doorway, cashpoint, pedestrian crossing or station entrance.

They aren't allowed to sign anyone up to a direct debit if they are unable to give informed consent through illness, disability, or drink or drugs. They can't approach any members of the public who are working, such as tour guides or newspaper vendors, and they have to leave people alone when asked to do so.

Last summer, the Fundraising Standards Board saw a 10% fall in the number of complaints about street fundraisers - although it's not clear whether this is due to an improvement in behaviour or simply a reduction in their numbers thanks to restrictions such as those in Croydon.

"The agreement with Croydon is a major milestone for the PFRA, being the 100th that we have put in place," says Hills-Jones, "and we're confident that initiatives such as this will help ensure our public spaces are regarded as more welcoming, comfortable places by all who use them."

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