The Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 is the act that requires a charity to obtain a licence for charitable collections in public places – to all intents and purposes, this means those carried out on the street. A model of local regulations is contained in the Charitable Collections Order 1974 (Transitional Provisions), though local authorities are not obliged to introduce such a system of licensing in their area.
The issuing of licences was the responsibility of the police until the Local Government Act 1972 transferred the licensing role to councils (except in London, where licences are still issued by the police).
The 1916 Act (section 5 – the only bit that is still in force) very clearly states a licence is required for a collection of money. The Act says that a licence is required in order to “collect money or sell articles for the benefit of charitable or other purposes” (s5.1).
Why is a Site Management Agreement required for direct debit fundraising?
Direct Debit sign-ups are not ‘money’; they are “promises of money at a later date” – in legal terms, a ‘choice in action’.
This means that the 1916 Act does not apply to the solicitation of Direct Debits or personal contact details (unlike the equivalent act that authorises councils to issue licences for doorstep charitable collections – the House-to-House Collections Act 1939 – which refers to “money and other property”.) F2F fundraising for Direct Debits does not require a collection licence under the 1916 Act.
The licensing provisions in the Police, Factories etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 were due to be replaced by a new unified licensing regime for cash and Direct Debit fundraising contained in Part 3 of the Charities Act 2006. However, the relevant sections were never brought into force and it is now very unlikely they ever will be.