Street collectors should be regulated, says Garda chief

Kilkenny’s Garda chief superintendent has called for charity collectors to be more stringently regulated, as gardaí have limited control over the issuing of permits.

Kilkenny’s Garda chief superintendent has called for charity collectors to be more stringently regulated, as gardaí have limited control over the issuing of permits.

The idea behind the Street and House To House Collections Act, which came into force back in 1962, was to allow local organisations to collect money for local causes – but now there is “a proliferation of national collections taking place all over the country,” Chief Supt Mick McGarry said at a meeting of Kilkenny County Council’s joint policing committee on Monday.

One area of concern, he said, is that when a national or international organisation collects money on the streets, it is unclear how much money goes to the charity and how much goes to pay the collectors.

“Once they make any worthy contribution to a cause, much of the money goes to themselves, and I don’t think it’s right. There is very little control over them,” he said.

He also raised the issue of people collecting money to do foreign charity work, in cases where the money collected goes towards the person’s travel expenses rather than to the cause itself. Whether doing walks abroad or building houses in Africa, he said, “I think the whole thing has gone overboard.”

Chief Supt McGarry said there was also a difficulty in that if a permit had previously been granted to a group or individual for a collection on a certain date of the year, he did not have the power to stop them getting a permit for subsequent years. Anyone granted a permit is also allowed to have someone else carry out the collection on their behalf, as long as they have not been in jail, he said.

And he pointed out that last week gardaí stopped a man collecting money “who had €600 in his back pocket and had no permit at all – and this is not an isolated case.”

“The whole matter should be up for review,” Chief Supt McGarry said. “The legislation has not been looked at in years.”

The committee agreed to write to Justice Minister Alan Shatter about the issue.