It's been a while since I had young men calling at my door selling domestic bits and pieces from a bag, claiming to be ex-prisoners on a work-creation programme. I've long since decided that I won't buy anything from door-to-door hawkers, having done so frequently in the past. It's surprising that you can find little unequivocal advice on the matter, and that what is out there - at least online - seems to cut-and-paste one particular statement made by some body, at some time. But whenever the police have made any kind of pronouncement about it, the consensus has been that, whatever the truth about the young men with the bags of dusters themselves, the 'scheme' they are part of isn't being organised by any official body but by criminals who are, at the very least, exploiting them, and buying their wares helps no one. Since I started turning the hawkers away, they've stopped turning up, which does suggest there is some sharing of information between groups about who will hand over money and who won't.
One hawker came around yesterday, and I refused quietly and definitely to buy anything from him. Imagining, for a moment, that his story may have had some truth to it, it might have been good to have something positive to offer than just refusal to take part in the structure he's part of, but I hadn't worked that out. He went off cursing me, quite literally, and calling me the Devil. I doubt he would have been quite so vehement about someone who wasn't visibly a clergyperson. People are always taken aback and sometimes angrily resentful whenever I refuse to do something they want, I suppose because at some level they see a priest as an index of reasonable goodness and, if the priest won't go along with their desires, it implies that those desires might not be either reasonable or good.