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Clothing collections :
Prosecution by South Northamptonshire Council (SNC)

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South Northamptonshire Council

Springfields, Towcester, Northants NN12 6AE


For Immediate Release
Monday, 06 August 2001


SOUTH Northamptonshire Council has successfully prosecuted two men for
carrying out collections for a bogus charity.

[Mr A] and [Mr B] were both found guilty 
at Towcester Magistrates' Court on Thursday (5) of holding a house-to-house
collection without a licence.

The court heard that the pair had distributed leaflets in Middleton Cheney asking
residents for donations of clothing, bed linen and towels.

The leaflet implied that the goods would be recycled in aid of a charity, called 
Third World Recycling, but [Mr A] and [Mr B] had collected the material to sell it 
to a recycling company for person gain.

Members of the public concerned about the legitimacy of the collection contacted
officers from South Northamptonshire Council.

Magistrates heard that officers saw a van, lettered with the words Third World 
Recycling - collection vehicle, in the Middleton Cheney area on Friday, December
10, 2000.

[Mr A] and [Mr B] were then seen collecting blue, plastic sacks containing clothing
from doorsteps. With the aid of the police, the van was stopped.

Magistrates fined [Mr A], of [address], £150 and ordered
him to pay £150 costs.

[Mr B], of [address], was fined £100 and ordered to pay £150 

Following the conviction, South Northamptonshire Council is now warning 
residents to check the identification of charity collectors.

Anyone wishing to check the legitimacy of a house-to-house collection should call
[...], the Council's Licensing Officer, on 01327 322119.



Note:  We (CharityBags) have omitted the names, ages and addresses of the collectors in the press release above.  Bold added by CharityBags.

Comments by CharityBags on the press release above

Legislation used:  Although it's not stated in the press release, the prosecution was brought under the House to House Collections Act 1939.

Regulatory organisations mentioned :

No mention is made of :

The sequence of events

  1. Concerned members of the public contacted the Council about the collection (presumably on the day they received the flyer leaflets and plastic sacks).
  2. Council licensing officers studied the leaflet, researched, and concluded that the collection :
    • was purporting to be 'charitable' rather than commercial (so it needed authorisation), and
    • had no authorisation (ie a Council licence or National Exemption Order)
    • would be illegal.
  3. They informed the police of the anticipated collection (location and date).
  4. Council officers and the police attended together on the day of the collection (Friday).
  5. They witnessed the collection taking place.
  6. The two collectors were stopped and interviewed.
    This enabled the names and addresses of the collectors to be obtained and other evidence gathered.
  7. The Council prosecuted the collectors.
  8. The case involved the Council's Licensing Department and Legal Department.
  9. The case was heard in the local Magistrates' Court.
  10. The Council publicised the outcome of the prosecution via a press release.
  11. The case was reported in the local newspapers.

The sequence above is a model of how local authorities should deal with potentially bogus charitable collections.

Unlike many bogus collection vans, this one had the name of the collection organisation displayed on the outside.

Seizure: The press release doesn't say whether the bags of clothes were seized.
Note: Apparently, if the police consider the collection is 'criminal deception', the van can be seized as well as the clothes.

Eight months elapsed between the date of the collection and the court hearing.

Costs: The two defendants were ordered to pay a total of £300 costs to the Council.  Thus the Council recouped some/all of the expense incurred in bringing the prosecution.

The implications for other councils - similar action needed

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