Stop Recycled Stolen PhonesA new code of practice to stop an estimated 100,000 stolen mobile phones being sold to recycling companies was launched today by Home Office Minister James Brokenshire.

The code, which has been developed by the government, police and mobile phone industry, aims to close a loophole which has seen thousands of phones - worth an average of £50 each - sold to recyclers each year.

Currently 90 per cent of handsets reported stolen in the UK are blocked within 48 hours of reporting making them useless. However phones blocked in this country can still be used abroad and as the recycling industry exports many of the handsets it receives it is becoming a new market for stolen phones.

Companies who sign up to the code will agree to work closely with police and check the details of every phone they are offered against the National Mobile Phone Register, a database of all phones reported stolen. If it is has been reported as stolen the company will then pass on the details of the phone and the person who offered it to them to police to investigate.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire 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 code of practice is a perfect example of what this approach can achieve.

"By signing up to the code, the mobile phone industry is closing a multi-million pound loophole that has been exploited by criminals and they should be congratulated. Alongside the impressive work on blocking stolen phones, this code will make mobile phone theft an even less profitable crime."

Jack Wraith, chairman of the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum, said

"The industry welcomes this very important initiative on the part of the recyclers as it not only closes off an avenue used by criminals to gain from theft of mobile phones it also demonstrates that those recyclers who have signed up to the scheme are serious in their efforts to support the continuing battle against mobile phone theft."

Those companies that sign up will be endorsed by industry so consumers can have confidence in the recycler they are dealing with. So far 20 mobile phone recyclers, representing 90 per cent of the industry, have committed to it.

Stop Recycled Stolen Phones

The code of practice will be administered by TUFF (Telecommunications Fraud Forum) who will monitor it to ensure it is being adhered to. Sanctions will be taken against companies that do not comply with it.


  1. The recyclers who have signed up to code so far are: 20-20 Mobile, Anovo, Easyfone, EMC Recycle, Fone Bak/Regenersis, Fonebank, Fone Hub, Greener Solution, Mazuma Mobile, Mobile Phone Exchange, Mobile Phone Recycling Organisation, Money for Your Phone, Redeem PLC, Royal Mail, RPC Recycle, SHP Solutions, TopDollarMobile, West One Technology, Carphone Warehouse, Virgin Media, and Recipero.
  2. For more information about the code of practice go to Code of Practice.
  3. The National Mobile Phone Register is linked to four national databases - the industry database of mobiles that have been blocked, the police database of mobiles reported stolen, the mobile insurance industry claims database and a voluntary public register of ownership details of mobiles (Immobilise). So phones can be searched across these databases to identify them, see if they are lost or stolen and returned to their rightful owner.
  4. Other crime reduction initiatives to result from government industry collaboration include:
    • the Mobile Phone Industry Crime Reduction Charter of 2006, which resulted in handsets reported stolen being blocked with 48 hours across all UK networks;
    • the creation of the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit to help develop and roll out of best practice to police forces across the country as well as encouraging and supporting early engagement with the Mobile Phone Industry: and
    • the M-Commerce Best Practice Guidelines, launched in August 2009, where the mobile and banking industries came together to agree some basic principles that the roll out of this technology will need to comply with to reduce the risk of crime.
  5. According to online due diligence specialists Recipero, which provide information to the National Mobile Phone Register, at least 100,000 handsets with an average value of £50 that have been either reported stolen to the police or blocked by their rightful owner are recycled every year.
  6. For more information contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3849.