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‘Chuggers’ facing extra rules in Norwich city centre from today

'Chuggers' can be a problem in Gentleman's Walk, Norwich. Photo: Antony Kelly

'Chuggers' can be a problem in Gentleman's Walk, Norwich. Photo: Antony Kelly

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

Street fundraisers known as ‘chuggers’ operating in Norwich city centre must comply with new standards or face more penalties from today.

Under rules devised by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association fundraisers will not be able to follow a person for more than three steps or stand within 3m of a shop doorway, cashpoint, pedestrian crossing or station entrance.

Chuggers will also not be allowed to sign up to a direct debit anyone unable to give informed consent through illness, disability, or drink or drugs or approach any members of the public who are working, such as tour guides or newspaper vendors.

Further to this, fundraisers must always terminate an engagement when they are clearly and unambiguously asked, by speech or body language, to do so.

The rules, which have been on trial for a year, enhance the existing code of practice produced by the Institute of Fundraising. Fundraising organisations that transgress the rules will rack up a series of penalty points that will then be converted into a monetary fine once they reach a threshold.

The PFRA already has a joint agreement with Norwich City Council to regulate fundraising in the city centre, which has been working particularly well.

The agreement, which was signed in July 2010, allows five fundraisers to work to work in each of three separate zones: St Stephen’s Street and Gentleman’s Walk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and London Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Stefan Gurney, Norwich City Centre Partnership Manager, said the new rules updated the original agreement.

He said: “It’s just a couple of extra points that have been added to it for clarification - a fine-tuning of the agreement, to make sure that common sense prevails on some of these issues, such as following people down the street.

“Since the agreement was signed in 2010 we have seen a reduction in the number of year on year complaints from members of the public about street fundraisers, although some people are still uncomfortable about the practice.”

The PFRA will monitor compliance with both the new rules and the code of practice through a mystery shopping programme, spot checks by compliance staff, and through co-regulation with city council staff and officials. The rules are compulsory for all

PFRA members and will operate nationally.

Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the PFRA, said: “For a form of fundraising that is so regularly in the limelight, it is vitally important that fundraisers work to the highest possible standards in order to maintain the confidence of the public, media, and central and local government.

“The commitment made by all of our charity and agency members to conform to these new special standards is testament to the seriousness with which charities take their best practice obligations.”

Have you been the victim of an over-zealous ‘chugger’? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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