Cardiff council is cracking down on the number of paid charity fundraisers targeting shoppers after it received a number of complaints, it has emerged.
The city’s local authority is limiting the number of so-called “chuggers” – or charity muggers – who stop passers-by asking them to donate cash to various causes to 12 a day, while the times which they can operate have also been reduced after the authority made an agreement with a charity regulator.
It comes a week after the direct debit collectors were handed guidelines for the first time.
It has emerged the council signed the agreement with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) after complaints about face-to-face fundraisers from visitors to the city centre.
Under the terms of the agreement, the number of fundraisers permitted has been limited to a maximum of 36 a week.
Chuggers can work on six designated sites, an increase from five, but the number of days that fundraising can take place is now three, down from five.
The sites include High Street and St John’s Street on Tuesdays, Queen Street East and Working Street on Wednesdays and Queen Street West and St Mary Street on Thursdays.
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The council said the agreement is running successfully after being implemented at the start of the summer.
A spokesman for the authority said: “The new deal with the PFRA means that all charity fundraising organisations have to book through them to fundraise in Cardiff city centre.
“The agreement, implemented in the capital at the beginning of the summer, allows charities to continue to fundraise in Cardiff, but the new approach balances the needs of charities to raise money and take into consideration shoppers’ and visitors’ concerns about the number of charity collectors in the capital.
“Since its implementation, the new agreement has reduced the total number of chuggers in the city centre by half and, to date, we have received only one complaint.
“We are now working with the PFRA to ensure best practice at all times.”
Under the Charities Act, councils are able to license street fundraisers collecting cash.
But the rules do not currently cover chuggers because they collect bank details and they are instead self-regulated by charity-led membership body the PFRA.
Last week the PFRA introduced new rules and a penalties regime which stipulates fundraisers must not follow a person for more than three steps, stand within three metres of a shop doorway, cash machine, pedestrian crossing or station entrance, or sign up anyone to a direct debit who is unable to give informed consent through illness, disability, or drink or drugs.
They are also not allowed to approach any members of the public who are working, such as tour guides or newspaper vendors.
In addition, fundraisers have also been told they must always terminate an engagement when they are clearly and unambiguously asked to do so.
Steve Barker, of popular clothing store Barker in Cardiff’s High Street Arcade, yesterday said chuggers did not cause a drop in trade but said regulation was needed.
He said: “There’s a little too much of that with them and street sellers.
“There should be room for it but there should be control and regulation.”
He added that they could be intimidating or a nuisance if you were not confident about dealing with them.
“I think if you are confident enough to say ‘I’m busy working like you are busy working’ then there’s no problem, personally speaking,” he said. “I could imagine if you were elderly or not familiar with it or the city then it may be a problem.
“They don’t cause us any problem to be honest, not that I’m aware of – they are not near enough to us.
“By Greggs where Church Street meets High Street is where they tend to be. If it could be tightened up I think it should be.”
A spokesman for Barnardo’s Cymru, which employs chuggers, said: “We take the training of our fundraisers very seriously and as members of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) we expect all those raising funds for us to follow the strict code of conduct laid down by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA).
“Going forward, we will work together with the IoF to continue to drive up standards.”
What do you think of the council’s new policy? Should we be cracking down on “chuggers”? Have you been bothered by them in the city centre? See our Storify of reaction below, and tet us know your thoughts in the comments.