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A brief history of clothing collections

 <---  Headings     

"Tree of Hope" / SOS Clothes Ltd - clothes collection leaflet
Above: a clothing collection leaflet


This page is our attempt at compiling a timeline (history) of key events concerning :

  • clothing collections (especially charitable ones), and
  • related issues.
We've included :
  • relevant changes in the law, its administration, and regulators
  • events regarding charities and charity shops
  • notable reports in the media
  • a few unrelated events to give context [shown in italics] eg World War 2, (with '#context' next to them)

Key - colour-coding, searching etc of entries on this page:

  • Law - Acts of Parliament and Regulations are shown as follows :
     Act     Regulations 
  • References to charity shops are shown as follows :
    charity shops
  • References to clothing collections are shown as follows :
    Clothing collections
  • Recycling logoReferences to re-use/recycling :  a recycling symbol is used (see example in the right-hand margin)
  • Items beginning with a hash "#" are searching/indexing terms, eg "#parliament".
    So, to search for (or highlight) these, include the hash.  Examples :
    • "#association" - indicates an entry for an association (or similar organisation)
    • "#central-govt" - indicates central government (eg Whitehall)
    • "#charity" - indicates an entry on an individual named charity (eg Oxfam)
    • "#collector" - indicates a named clothing collector (eg Clothes Aid)
    • "#consumers" - indicates consumer law, consumer issues, trading standards
    • "#ireland" - indicates Ireland (N Ireland and/or the Irish Republic)
    • "#law-act" - indicates law: Act(s) of Parliament
    • "#law-regs" - indicates law: Regulations
      Note: a search for "#law" gets both act and regs
    • "#lg" - indicates local government
    • "#media-broadcast" - indicates broadcasts =TV or radio
    • "#media-mag" - indicates an entry relating to a magazine article
    • "#media-newspaper" - indicates an entry relating to a newspaper article
      Note: a search for "#media" gets all media items
    • "#parliament" - indicates a reference to Parliament (eg House of Commons debates, MPs)
    • "#quango" - indicates an entry relating to a QUANGO
    • "#recycling" - indicates re-use or recycling
    • "#report" - indicates a report or similar - used if the word "report" isn't in the entry
    • "#web" - indicates the web/Internet
  • Other easily-searchable/highlightable themes below include:
    "BBC", "1939", "council", "licen" (to mark licenc* and licens*), "prosecut", "Exemption Order", "Clothes Aid", "report", "police"

Prosecutions and ASA adjudications

To save duplication, we've not included prosecutions in the Timeline below.
They're on the following page :

You can see ASA adjudications on the A-Z list of collectors page.

Filtering the list below (a 1-column table)

The list below is a table - of 1 column.

You can look at the table below just as it is - browsing up and down the page as usual  
And you can search it as usual - for instance using Ctrl-F (then using the Enter or F3 keys).

However, this table uses table-filter software - so you can filter and/or sort entries.

Filtering:  At any stage, you can select (in other words, filter) the entries below.
This "collapses" the table temporarily - so it only lists the items (rows) which you want.
Do this as follows:

  • Type your search text into one or more of the empty form boxes in the top row of the table (where it says "  Type your search text here ! ...  ").
  • Then press the Enter key to do the selection.
  • To see the full list of entries (rows) again :
    • Delete all the text you've added in the form box(es) - and press the Enter key.
    • Or click on the "Clear filters" icon (a filter funnel with a red cross) at the top right.
    • (Or press the F5 function key - which refreshes the page.)

The heading(s) of the selected column(s) and the selected text are highlighted.
The filter isn't case-sensitive - so UPPER or lower case makes no difference.
Use two vertical-line characters (by the "Z" key) to indicate "or".  Example:  bloggs||smith
Other codes include:  {x =begins with x    }x =ends with x    !x =not x    [empty] =empty 
See http://tablefilter.free.fr/   for more of these codes (with examples).
At the top of the table, there's a counter that tells you the number of rows shown.

Also, you can search using Regular Expressions (=regex)   with this new version (v2.4).
Do this by putting "rgx:" at the start ("rgx" followed by a colon ":").
Example: "rgx:200[3-8]"  - this finds all items with years between 2003 and 2008


  • With some filter-tables on the website, you can click on column headings to sort them.
  • You can tell if it sorts - your mouse pointer changes to a hand when you hover over a column heading.
  • You can click on a sequence of columns to get two or more "levels" of sorting.
    Click in the order of increasing importance (eg click the main sort column last).
    There's an arrow shown on the last column you clicked to sort.
  • To revert to the original sort order, press the F5 function key to refresh the page.

These filtering and sorting facilities allow you to interact with the table - so you can change it to suit your needs.  They make the table behave like a simple database or spreadsheet.

See our Web design page for more on table filtering facilities (JavaScript).
The software used on the table below is called "HTML Table Filter" (by Max Guglielmi).
For more help on using it (eg search syntax), see http://tablefilter.free.fr/  


Browsers:  The software works fine with Internet Explorer 8, Firefox and Safari.  It's fine with Opera too - except it only sorts one column at a time.

By the way, there's another nice JavaScript table utility called "TableTools"   (by Mingyi Liu).  A modified version is available as a free add-on for the Firefox browser.  When you're browsing with Firefox and see any table, you can call up the TableTools utility (with a right-click) and do powerful filtering and sorting (and more).

Examples of selection/search text which you can type in the empty form boxes below
(and see above for more examples) :

  • #charity, #collector, #law, #law-act, #media, #parliament, #recycling, #web, BBC, report, Clothes Aid, ambulance, Scotland


  • You can look at the table below just as it is - browsing up and down the page.
    There are around 90 entries (=column rows).
  • However, you can also filter the table if you want - at any time (full instructions immediately above).
    Type your filter search text in the yellow search box below, then press Enter
    For example, try it out by typing in the two-word phrase: charity shop
    - The table will "collapse" to give you just the 10 or so entries on charity shops.
Charity Commission logo

Charity Commission for England and Wales   established


1894 The National Trust   was formed

- a charity covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland
[ 1914-18 First World War ] #context

1916 Police, Factories, etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 received Royal Assent

This included the licensing (by the police) of [static] street collections carried out by charities
HDPE recycling symbol 127x179  LDPE recycling symbol 124x179

1933 Polythene (PE) was manufactured for the first time

(by ICI in Northwich, Cheshire, England)
Clothing collectors first distributed plastic bags (polythene) around 1990?

1939 (28 July) House-to-house collections : The House to House Collections Act 1939 received Royal Assent

This was the first-ever legislation to control charitable house-to-house collections.  Until 1974, the licensing authorities were the police and the Home Office.
[ 1939-45 Second World War ] #context

1941 The first charity shop opened in the UK (a Red Cross shop in London)

- according to Wikipedia.

1942 (29 Jan) House of Commons Debates - Oral answers to questions - question relating to the success of the House to House Collections Act 1939

See www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1942-01-29a.908.8   **
#parliament #law-act

1947 The House to House Collections Regulations 1947 were approved

- under powers contained in the 1939 Act

1948 The first Oxfam charity shop opened in the UK (in Oxford)


1952 House-to-house collections : The House to House Charitable Collections Act (Northern Ireland) 1952 received Royal Assent

#law-act #ireland

1957 The Consumers Association was formed.  The first 'Which?' magazine was published

Misleading clothing collections have been featured frequently in the magazine.
#association #consumers #media-mag

1960 The Charities Act 1960 received Royal Assent

This established the Central Register of Charities (managed by the Charity Commission).
ASA logo

1962 The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was set up

The ASA has issued adjudications on over 40 "charitable" clothing collection leaflets to date.
#association #consumers
Recycling logo

1962 First-ever episode of 'Steptoe and Son' - a BBC TV comedy

A comedy about two rag-and-bone men in London.  They were a poignant example of traditional commercial re-use/recycling - including clothes collected house-to-house.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steptoe_and_Son  
#collector #recycling #media-broadcast

1970 Tvind was formed - a controversial "sect" based in Denmark

In the UK, organisations related to Tvind do clothing collections, run clothing banks (eg Planet Aid) and operate two charity shops (DAPP).
#collector #charity
[ 1971 (15 Feb) Decimalisation - currency - £sd became £ and pennies ] #context

1972 The Local Government Act 1972 received Royal Assent

Amongst other things, this Act amended the House to House Collections Act 1939 as follows:
It transferred responsibility (from 1 April 1974) for the licensing of house-to-house collections from the police to local councils (except in Greater London).
(Note:  Also, street collections were transferred.)
#law-act #lg
[ 1977 Launch of the first home computer ] #context
BBC logo

1980 First-ever BBC Watchdog programme broadcast

Over the years, the programme has been influential in publicising consumer issues (including clothing collections).
#consumers #media-broadcast
[ 1982 The first Compact Discs (CDs) were produced (by Sony/Philips) ] #context

1983 The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) was formed

Professional body for not-for-profit fundraisers.  A registered charity.

1985 Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 received Royal Assent

An early attempt at Freedom of Information legislation.  See also the FoIA Act 2000.
#law-act #lg

1988 Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 (the CMARs) came into force

A system operated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Used in 2004 on an unlicensed "charitable" clothing collector (Nicholas Rees).
#collector #consumers #law-regs

1989 Clothing collections : 50th anniversary of the House to House Collections Act 1939


1992 Charities Act 1992 received Royal Assent

Part III of the Act included provisions for a new licensing regime for charitable collections.  However, the provisions were never implemented.

1994 Start of the Internet / World Wide Web

The Web gave everyone the facility :
(a) to search instantly for information on clothing collections, and
(b) to communicate instantly with email.
Potentially this would have revolutionised the monitoring and enforcement of unlicensed collections.  However, progress so far has been disappointing.`

1997 (approx) Clothing collections : Clothes Aid established - full name: Clothes Aid (Collections) Ltd


1997 Launch of the Daily Mirror investigations column/campaign against scams It's now called "Penman and Sommerlad Investigate"

They've reported on numerous "charitable" clothing collection scams.
#media-newspaper #consumers
Google logo
[ 1998 (4 Sept) Google formed (company incorporated) ] #context #web
Flag of Scotland 800x480

1998 (19 Nov) Scotland Act 1998 received Royal Assent

The Act created the Scottish Parliament (devolution).

1999 Association of Charity Shops (ACS) established

It covers the UK; now known as the Charity Retail Association - CRA

2000 Irish Charity Shops Association (ICSA) launched [covers The Irish Republic]

#association #ireland

2000 Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) received Royal Assent


2001 The Government started a major review of charity law relating to England and Wales

Ultimately this led to the Charities Act 2006, which made substantial changes to charity law.
#report #law-act
[ 2001 (11 Sept) "9/11" terrorist attack in New York ] #context

2002 Clothing collections : "CharityBags" started - www.charitybags.org.uk


2002 The Enterprise Act 2002 received Royal Assent

This allows trading standards etc to obtain written undertakings from rogue traders - eg clothing collectors?
#law-act #consumers

2002 (20 Nov) Clothing collections : BBC TV 'Watchdog' investigation of bogus charity clothing collections - especially 'Gotham'

#collector #consumers #media-broadcast

2003 Clothing collections : Home Office List of National Exemption Orders (NEOs) :  CharityBags placed a copy of the List on its website (with permission).  This was the first time the List was available on the Internet.

#law-regs #web #central-govt

2003 Clothing collections : A report entitled 'Charity and door-to-door clothing collections' was published by the Charity Commission

Recycling logo

2003 (1 May) Freecycle formed  =The Freecycle Network (TFN)

Started in the USA (Arizona).  Aims to divert reusable goods from landfills.
Members give away unwanted goods - for free.  The UK branch is a charity.
#recycling #charity

2003 (10 July) The Licensing Act 2003 ("LA2003") received Royal Assent

This Act applies only to England and Wales.
It deals with the licensing of premises which are used for the supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment, and the provision of late night refreshment (see Wikipedia).  It's administered by local council licensing departments.

It provides an interesting contrast to the House to House Collections Act 1939.  For example, under the 2003 Act :
  • councils are required to keep registers of licence applications, and
  • a pooled, central (national) register is kept also
#law-act #lg
2003 (Sept) Clothing collections :
Report:  Publication of a crucial report by the Home Office entitled :
'Public Collections for Charitable, Philanthropic and Benevolent Purposes. A consultation paper on proposals for a new local authority licensing scheme.'  A4, 48 pages

2004 European Union (EU): 10 countries joined including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland

This led to a big increase in clothing collections in the UK by Eastern Europeans - especially Lithuanians.
Flag of Scotland 800x480

2005 Scotland - charity regulation - Launch of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)

The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 received Royal Assent.
This established the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)  
(the Scottish equivalent of the Charity Commission for England and Wales)
#quango #law-act
Office of the Third Sector (OTS) - logo - Crown copyright

2006 (May) Creation of the 'Office of the Third Sector' (OTS)

Transfer of responsibility for charities (including collections) from the Home Office to the Office of the Third Sector - part of the Cabinet Office

2006 House-to-house collections : The List of charities granted National Exemption Orders (NEOs)

This list was put on the Internet by government for the first time.  The website concerned was that of the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) - part of the Cabinet Office.
(The list comprises the 43 or so charities which have 'National Exemption Orders' in respect of charitable house-to-house collections.)
#web #central-govt

2006 (8 Nov) The Fraud Act 2006 received Royal Assent

This gives powers to the police and trading standards.
It can be used against bogus clothing collectors.

2006 (8 Nov) The Charities Act 2006 received Royal Assent

Part 3, Chapter 1 included provisions for a new licensing regime for charitable collections.  However, these have yet to be implemented (as at July 2013). *

2006 (Dec) House-to-house collections : The Oxford community-website www.headington.org.uk began listing "charity" clothes collections which had taken place in their area - with images of some of the leaflets


2006 (20 Dec) The 'UK Statute Law Database' (SLD) was launched by the government (OPSI)

'The official revised edition of the primary legislation [Acts] of the United Kingdom made available online.' [free]
At last everyone could refer to revised legislation on the Internet - such as the 1916 and 1939 Acts.
#law-act #web
Recycling logo

2007 (Jan) WEEE Directive:  The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (the WEEE Directive) came into force

This affected the donations of electrical equipment - eg to charity shops.
#regulation #law-regs #recycling

2007 (Wed 28 Feb) Clothing collections : House of Commons (Westminster Hall debate) on bogus charity collections

Led by Jo Swinson MP (East Dunbartonshire, Scotland).
See Charity clothing collections: Parliament and politicians page

2007 (Dec) Clothing collections : Theft of collection bags:
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issued new guidance

The guidance says that items left for collection by a charity [eg clothes] become the charity's property as soon as they are put into its bag.  So anyone else taking the bags can be prosecuted for theft [by the police].  Guidance welcomed by charities and Clothes Aid.

2007 (Dec) Clothing collections :
The Government launched a public awareness initiative:
"to help people check whether a clothing collection is for charity or not"

A leaflet was published, entitled "Give with care".  Clothes Aid distributed 500,000 copies.
#central-govt #collector

2007 (Dec) Clothing collections : http://ClothingCollection.org was launched

This was an innovative WordPress blog website, started by Donncha O Caoimh in Ireland - "exposing fake clothing collection charities".  Alas, the site was taken down in 2009.
#web #ireland
[ 2008 Start of the Global financial crisis (the credit crunch) ] #context

2008 Mary Portas:  BBC TV broadcast the first series of 'Mary Queen of [charity] shops', presented by Mary Portas (a retail expert)

#charity shops #media-broadcast

2008 (Spring) Clothing collections : Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London ('GOSH') terminated its contract with Clothes Aid (its house-to-house clothing collector)

#charity #collector

2008 Clothing collections : Darlington Borough Council revoked the house-to-house collection licence which it had previously issued to Clothes Aid

#collector #lg

2008 (26 May) The Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 were repealed

They were replaced by:
  • The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the CPRs)
  • The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (the BPRs)
See the Regulators page: the section on the Office of Fair Trading - clothing collections
#consumers #law-regs

2008 (Fri 22 Aug) Clothing collections :
BBC Radio 4 "Face the Facts" programme exposing "Planet Aid", Humana and Tvind

#collector #consumers #media-broadcast
2009 (July) Clothing collections :
Clothes Aid entered into a partnership with the NSPCC charity   (donating £75 per tonne).
#charity #collector
Recycling logo - Mobius loop

2009 (Oct)
A 32-page report entitled "Maximising Reuse and Recycling of UK Clothing and Textiles" was published by Oakdene Hollins Ltd   for the Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

In December, they published a more detailed report (126 pages).
#recycling #central-govt

2009 (28 Oct) Clothing collections :
House of Commons debate - on bogus 'charitable' clothing collections

Contributions from Jeff Ennis, Angela Smith (Minister), Alun Michael.
Oral answers to questions in Parliament.  Praise for the prosecution by Cardiff Council.
The Guardian - logo

2009 (15 Nov) Clothing collections :
A crucial article in "The Guardian" newspaper, headed:
"Charities fight over secondhand clothes market
Charities with shops complain about other charities linking up with commercial textile merchants"

On the issue of charity shops versus the "X pounds-per-tonne royalty" collectors.
See the Collections in the media page.

2010 Clothing collections : Booklet on charity theft published by Clothes Aid

Clothes Aid published an excellent 8-page A5-sized booklet entitled :
"Help us stamp out charity theft: Working with your local Neighbourhood Watch/Homewatch Group"
You can see the booklet via the website of Boddington Parish Council (Northamptonshire) : www.BoddingtonParish.co.uk/pc_archive/ClothesAid_A5Booklet...FINAL...Version.pdf  

2010 Clothing collections :'Air Ambulance Service' (AAS/AASTCo) 'charity' collection scam

The story got unprecedented media coverage.  But the regulators seemed reluctant to take action.
See "Air Ambulance Service" (AAS) and AASTC - clothing collections
Top of a misleading collection leaflet from Air Ambulance Service (AAS)
Above: Top of a misleading collection leaflet from AAS
[ 2010 (May) Election - Coalition Government formed ] #context

2010 (May) Clothing collections : Abolition of the Office of the Third Sector (OTS)

  • The new government abolished the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) (part of the Cabinet Office).
  • The OTS had been responsible for charity issues since 2006, including the issue of National Exemption Orders (NEOs) in relation to house-to-house collections.
  • However, the Cabinet Office will continue to deal with these matters.

2010 (August) Clothing collections : "Breakthrough Breast Cancer" (charity) - saga of fake collection bags

The story got national coverage on BBC TV and radio.
Tracey Crouch MP (Chatham and Aylesford, Kent) adopted the issue.
#parliament #charity #collector #media-broadcast
Crowned portcullis logo - Crown copyright - courtesy of wikipedia*

2010 (Sept) Clothing collections : Tracey Crouch MP asked questions in Parliament relating to house-to-house 'charity' clothing collections, seeking written answers

For example:
"To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people have been convicted under the House to House Collections Act 1939 for fraudulent collection in each of the last 10 years; and what sentence was given in each case. [14798]"
(Answer given on 13 Sept:  No data available!)
See www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/ cmhansrd/cm100913/text/100913w0006.htm  

2010 (7 Oct) Clothing collections : Publication of "Bogus charity clothing collections"

- a Briefing Paper for MPs, produced by the House of Commons Library - 9 pages.
(It refers to the Charity Retail Association and www.CharityBags.org.uk.)
#parliament #report

2010 (13 Oct) Clothing collections : House of Commons debate (Westminster Hall debate) on "Bogus charity bag collections"

Debate instigated by Tracey Crouch MP - following her support for Breakthrough Breast Cancer (charity) - see above.

2010 (Oct) Government review of QUANGOs

The new government announced it will scrap or merge scores of QUANGOs - possibly including Consumer Focus
#quango #consumers

2010 (Autumn) The Association of Charity Shops (ACS) changed its trading name to Charity Retail Association (CRA)


2010 (26 Oct) Clothing collections : "Third Sector" magazine  

The magazine revealed that Oxfam had produced an internal report (in May 2010) on the 10 main problems with house-to-house collections (written by Julian Fifield).
The report concluded that the charity doorstep collection market is saturated.`
#charity #media-mag

2010 (28 Oct) Clothing collections : Torfaen Council (South Wales) refused to issue a collection licence to Intersecond Ltd / Azzara / Do Not Delay

- This is a fascinating, highly detailed report (a PDF of 28 pages).
The appendices include copies of the application form, correspondence and the company's accounts.
#collector #lg

2010 (14 Dec) Clothing collections : Rutex Ltd - company struck off and dissolved

The controversial collection company Rutex Ltd was struck off (by Companies House) and dissolved.  See Clothing collectors: a selection (A-Z)
#collector #central-govt

2011 (19 Jan) Clothing collections : The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint about a leaflet from Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd

The ASA concluded the leaflet was misleading.
See "Air Ambulance Service" page

2011 (15 April) Clothing collections : The company called "Air Ambulance Service" changed its name to "St Anthony Repatriation Ltd"


2011 (April) Clothing collections : In the Irish Republic, a disagreement between two clothing collectors from Lithuania led to one shooting the other

#collector #ireland

2011 (mid) Clothing collections : The CIC Regulator launched an investigation into 'Air Ambulance Support CIC'

#central-govt #collector

2011 (14 Sept) Clothing collections : Charity clothes collections symposium - London

Event hosted by the Fundraising Standards Board and the Institute of Fundraising

2011 (2 Nov) Clothing collections : The government closed down three scam clothing collection companies:

- St Anthony Repatriation Ltd
- St Anthony (Trading Co) Ltd
- Air Ambulance Support Community Interest Company (CIC).

2013 (2 July) Clothing collections : Publication of a report on charitable clothing collections - by Dr Clive Sealey

"Turning brass to muck? A small scale exploration of charities' use of charity bags collections"

20xx ? Charitable collections : Proposed implementation of Part 3, Chapter 1 of the Charities Act 2006 in respect of charitable collections

As at August 2013, it seems it's been postponed indefinitely.

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Historic clockface - Biberach (Riss), Germany, Ulmer Tor (wikimedia.org)
Clockface - Biberach (Riss), Germany, Ulmer Tor (courtesy of wikimedia.org)
reflecting the "timeline" theme of this page