SNP inaction on bogus charity leaflet unacceptable – Jo

Bogus charity fliers are a widespread problem across the UK

Jo Swinson has expressed concern over the Scottish Government’s failure to help charities tackle the problem of bogus charity collectors.

Parliamentary questions asked by Jo and her MSP colleague Margaret Smith have revealed that the SNP Government has no plans to print copies of a leaflet designed to raise awareness of the actions of bogus charity collectors.

In contrast, the UK Government has produced 500,000 copies for distribution in problem areas across England and Wales. Jo has written to Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing MSP to set out her concerns.

Doorstep theft of charitable donations, usually clothing, costs the UK’s charitable sector up to £3 million per year, according to the Association of Charity Shops. Thefts are often carried out by organised criminal gangs, who also solicit donations using fliers to pose as charitable collectors. Clothes are then exported and sold abroad for profit.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I am concerned that the Scottish Government’s failure to print copies of this leaflet for charities in Scotland shows that they do not take this issue seriously. If the UK Government has had no problem printing half a million copies, why is the SNP leaving Scottish charities to go it alone?

“There is widespread evidence that gangs that solicit donations by using misleading fliers to pose as charities are also involved in the outright theft of charitable donations from doorsteps. When charities are facing losses adding up to millions of pounds to this particularly despicable form of theft, the inaction shown by the SNP Government is all the more unacceptable.

“The danger is that people’s trust in the legitimacy of charitable collectors is eroded. If people cannot donate with confidence, the charities that rely on public generosity will suffer as a result.

“There have been some welcome steps in the fight against charity donation thefts, in particular the improvements to Crown Prosecution Service Guidance on dealing with the thefts, which have prompted a positive response from police forces. However, there are still significant issues around police resources, meaning that tackling the charity thieves is very much an ongoing battle.”

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