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The law allows wider latitude for collecting money for charitable reasons than for commercial or political ones. 'Charitable purposes' is any charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purpose. It includes the relief of poverty and the advancement of religion or education at home or abroad, but it does not include collections to raise funds for a political party or for a political campaign (e.g. animal liberation or CND).
There is no need to obtain a licence or certificate for handing out leaflets or collecting signatures for a petition. A leaflet must have on it the name and address of the printer. Some byelaws contain restrictions on the places where leafleting can take place, so it is best to check with the Council or your local parish council. The police may move people distributing leaflets if they appear to be causing an obstruction. It is an offence to hand out leaflets that are threatening, abusive or insulting or those that are intended to stir up racial hatred.
Sticking up posters in public places is legal, as long as
- you have consent of the owner of the hoarding, fence or wall;
- the poster is no more than 6 feet square;
- it advertises a non-commercial event, including political, educational or social meetings;
- there is no byelaw to prevent it.
Persons over 18 may sell newspapers in the street or from door to door, as long as the sale is for campaigning purposes. If the sale is for profit, it becomes street trading or peddling (if door to door), both which are illegal without a licence.
Last updated: 26th January 2017