Police backing ban on ‘aggressive’ chuggers in Islington

Police are supporting plans to ban ‘chuggers’ from Islington – claiming they even increase the risk of pickpocketing.

As revealed by the Gazette earlier this month, Islington Council is currently consulting lawyers about bringing in a by-law to stop teams of charity fundraisers – nicknamed chuggers – operating on the borough’s streets to sign up direct debit donors.

And now businesses and police have shown support for the move. Sgt Chris Walsh, of the Angel town centre team, said: “They are a problem. They hassle people and don’t always stick to the rules they work under. It’s the persistence – if someone says no, quite often they follow them along.

“That’s annoying for people. When you walk past, you can be stopped three or four times on a short stretch of pavement. For shoppers, it can be quite frustrating to walk through. I see why they are useful for the charities, but it’s too intense and focused.”

Sgt Walsh also said that the chuggers, who work for agencies which take a cut of the payments, “create opportunities” for pickpockets as they distract people and cause them to stop.

Christine Lovett, director of the Angel Business Improvement District (BID), said she gets regular complaints about chuggers.

She said: “Despite the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association’s (PFRA) assurances, many of these charity collectors are aggressive and persistent and prove a daily ordeal to shoppers and visitors. We have been monitoring them with our Angel Police Team and watched as some break PFRA rules which state they are not allowed to follow people once they have walked away from them and made it clear they’re not interested.

Most Read

“Businesses say they really feel the impact of the chuggers’ presence – with shoppers rushing past their stores to avoid them.”

But Chris Reynolds, face-to-face fundraising manager at Greenpeace, based in Canonbury Villas, Islington, and chair of the PFRA’s standards and practices committee, said the council’s response was disproportionate.

Mr Reynolds stressed that when councils and other partners work with the PFRA to better enforce the rules, complaints often fall dramatically.