Charity fund-raisers who accost members of the public in the street could be outlawed in Birmingham after the city council launched a consultation to discover what the general public think of them.
Retail Birmingham – which represents shops across the city centre – last year called for a clampdown on so-called “chuggers” and the council – through the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership (BCSP) – is undertaking a research campaign to understand whether action needs to be taken.
Jacqui Kennedy, head of regulatory services at Birmingham City Council, said the project was a direct response to the number of chuggers operating in the city centre and an increasing number of complaints about them.
She said: “What we need is a public mandate and it is about balancing everybody’s needs. We need to establish what the public wants because we have had an increasing number of complaints about so-called chuggers.
“Our approach to all enforcement is evidence-based so we need to see if the issue is more than just anecdotal before we can decide if there is any activity that is needed.
"We need to protect the reputation of the city while also supporting these good causes so it is about getting the balance right so a public mandate is very important.
Ms Kennedy said there were a number of options if the consultation determined there was a problem that needed tackling. These included working with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association which had been involved in regulating chuggers in other towns and cities.
She said: “We want to have conversations with the parties involved and find a solution if one is needed – it could be zones or a code of conduct or ultimately a bylaw, although this is expensive.
‘‘We have to remember they are doing nothing illegal and we have no powers to stop them, so we need to get a consensus of opinion before we can move forward.”
Last year 750,000 people across the UK signed up to donate money through a face-to-face fund-raiser, contributing £90 a year on average.