We're making progress on bogus clothing collectors, say police

City of London force says a major investigation is taking place, and urges charities to help

Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police
Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police

The City of London Police has told charities that significant progress is being made in a major investigation it is conducting into charity clothing bag fraud.

At a forum organised by the force to update charities and clothing collection agents, officers called on charities to help them in the investigation.

The forum also heard about a desk that has been opened at the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to help tackle the problem.

Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police, said in a statement after the forum that charity bag fraud was an emerging threat that was making millions of pounds for organised crime gangs.

"Today’s event was an important stepping stone towards having a national strategy that will enable law enforcement and the charity sector to work in close partnership to tackle what is a particularly callous and cold-hearted crime," he said.

It is understood that officers involved in the forum acknowledged that police had not dealt well with charity bag fraud in the past but said that was now changing.

Alistair McLean, chief executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, who attended the meeting, told Third Sector it was encouraging that police were making more of an effort on bogus collections. "There’s a real acknowledgement at long last that this is a really big issue," he said.

Last year, said McLean, 50 per cent of complaints the FRSB received that were not about its members concerned clothing collections. "Anecdotally, a large proportion of these were to do with bogus collections," he said. "Charities need to work together to help police eradicate this problem. It’s damaging public trust and confidence in charities."

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