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Call for strategy to rid UK of ‘outrageous’ used textile thefts

United Kingdom – Following a broadcast on BBC Radio revealing the scale of illegal removal of charity and local authority clothing banks by a single rogue operator in the UK, the Textile Recycling Association (TRA) is calling on the police, other law enforcement agencies and politicians to address this problem as well as the wider issue of thefts from clothing banks which are costing UK charities and local authorities millions of Euros in lost revenues every year.

According to the TRA, some 750 clothing collection banks have been taken by one operator without any legal authority in the past 18 months alone – with ‘no attempt by the police to bring responsible individuals to justice’.

The TRA’s director Alan Wheeler says: ‘We estimate that illegal actions of this particular operator have cost UK charities and local authorities around Euro 400 000.’

TRA president Ian Woods claims to have received renewed reports of gangs targeting used clothing collection banks. ‘They routinely steal clothing from the banks using a variety of methods,’ he asserts. ‘Many of the clothing banks in question raise money for well-known national or local charities, and in some instances the money goes to the local authorities. Where we know this theft to be happening, we have reported this to the police.’

In one case, it is said, a gang operating out of a facility in south-east England is stealing at least 30 tonnes of used clothing from charity and local authority collection banks each week. Based on today’s market values, the gang could be stealing more than Euro 500 000 worth of clothing each year.

‘This is money that would have otherwise gone to a charity or to help fund local authority services which otherwise have to be funded by the local taxpayer,’ it is stressed.

Wheeler is calling for a high-level stakeholder summit involving the police, the National Crime Agency, other law enforcement agencies, charities, the recycling industry and relevant politicians with a view to ‘developing a national strategy to rid this country of these outrageous thefts by criminal gangs’.

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