Charities should stop using doorstep chuggers
Published: Thursday 20th December 12
Councillors are urging charities to call a halt to fundraising efforts that rely on doorstep chuggers.
The call follows complaints from residents in Putney who have had chuggers - or so-called 'charity muggers' knocking on their doors late in the evening trying to elicit donations.
Chuggers normally operate in town centres or outside busy tube and rail stations and try to persuade passers-by to sign up to making monthly direct debits to the charity they represent.
Many people find their presence annoying or distressing and there have been reports of them harassing people who refuse to hand over their bank details. Shopkeepers and traders also complain about their activities and blame them for driving customers away.
Unfortunately, local authorities in London have no formal powers to regulate chuggers because no actual money changes hands. The Met Police does have some powers to control their activities, but there are gaps in the law that often allow them to operate with impunity.
The council's adult social services spokesman Cllr Jim Maddan said charities needed to do more to ensure their representatives did not target elderly or vulnerable residents.
He said: "Charities should not be employing these kinds of tactics to raise money. It is not acceptable to send teams of chuggers out into residential areas late at night to knock on people's doors.
"Very few residents will want callers banging on their doors when it's dark, especially if it's to demand bank account details. I certainly do not think that older or vulnerable residents should be pressured into divulging this kind of information to people who come cold-calling.
"No-one wants to put unnecessary barriers in the way of legitimate charities who wish to raise funds for their good works, but this is not the way they should be going about it.
"Unfortunately there have been too many cases where unscrupulous chuggers have overstepped the mark and caused real upset, and while its relatively easy to dodge them in a high street, it is not so easy to do when they are standing on your doorstep.
"I will now be writing to the charity which has been employing these collectors to ask them to stop these activities straight away."
Anyone concerned at the activities of chuggers or believes that door-to-door callers may not be genuinely working on behalf of a charity should dial 999 and call the police immediately.