A new code of practice will regulate how mobile phone recycling companies check to see if the phones they buy are stolen. The code will see mobile phone recycling companies check the details of every phone they are offered against a national database, which lists mobile phones that have been blocked, stolen or voluntarily registered. If the phone is blocked, recyclers will refuse to buy it and details of the phone and the person or organisation who offered it to them will be passed on to police.
Although 90 per cent of handsets reported stolen in the UK are blocked across all networks within 48 hours of being reported, they can still be used overseas. The mobile phone recycling industry exports many of the handsets it buys and this has created a new market for stolen phones. The regulation will stop an estimated 100,000 phones from being sold to recycling companies every year. In return, the companies that sign up to the code will be placed on an approved list of recyclers, which consumers will have access to, and which the mobile phone industry will recommend people buy from.
Crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said that the code would close ‘a multi-million pound loophole that has been exploited by criminals.’ He said, ‘Tackling crime effectively is not just a job for government alone, action at all levels of society is needed to make a real difference. This new agreement is a perfect example of what this approach can achieve. By joining forces with the police, the mobile phone industry is closing a multi-million pound loophole that has been exploited by criminals and the industry should be congratulated. Alongside the impressive work on blocking stolen phones, this code will make mobile phone theft an even less profitable crime.’