Thursday 19 October 2017

Nuisance 'chuggers' must have a permit under new law

'Chuggers' must have a permit
'Chuggers' must have a permit
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

So-called chuggers or charity muggers who repeatedly approach pedestrians on the street looking for them to set up direct debit donations will soon have their activities curtailed by a new law and code of practice.

Some collectors have been criticised in the past for pestering members of the public as they walk along a street, with different collectors approaching them every few yards.

They do not currently need permits from the gardai in the same way that charities that make cash collections do, but that is about to change.

A code of practice is also being drawn up that will specify what practices collectors can engage in when looking for donations.

"It will mean those involved in direct debit collection will need permits and will be restricted to collecting on certain days in specified areas," said Ivan Cooper, director of advocacy with The Wheel, a group representing community and voluntary organisations.

"The direct debit type of collection is more intrusive because the collector is looking for information and an approach has to be made to a person.

Nuisance

"Where people have had a difficulty is that they are approached more than once on the same street and find themselves having to say 'no' maybe four times.

"We hope that permits will only be issued where a new agreed code of practice is adhered to."

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said it had contacted the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) recently after receiving a number of complaints from members of the public about the nuisance of chuggers.

"People think that we in the council have control over the charities, but it's not the case," said the spokesperson.

A date has not yet been set for the new regulations to be implemented, but it is hoped that they could come in as early as this summer.

"While the CRA doesn't have a direct role in regulating public collections by charities, we encourage all charities to take seriously their responsibility to ensure that those who raise funds on their behalf adhere to good practice at all times," said a spokeswoman for the authority.

Once the law comes into effect, the fundraising permits system will remain under the responsibility of the gardai and the courts.

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