News story

Crackdown on stolen mobile phones

A new code of practice will regulate how mobile phone recycling companies check to see if the phones they buy are stolen.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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.

Why is it a problem?

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.

Industry endorsement

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.

Closing the loophole

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.’

Find out more

For more information about the code of practice go to the stop recycled stolen phones website.


Transcript for Stolen mobile phones

Published 23 July 2010