Punishments for textile thefts are set to get tougher, following indications from the Government revealed at a meeting hosted by Civil Society minister Nick Hurd yesterday (10 January).
Attended by figures in the textile recycling industry, it was reported in the meeting that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is likely to increase sentencing to try to deter thieves form stealing textiles. The details of what type of sentences the MoJ is looking at have not yet been confirmed.
Clothes Aid raises funds for a number of charities through textile collections. Its spokesman Michael Lomotey attended the meeting. He told MRW: “I’d like to see the Proceeds of Crime Act used more, so the thieves do not benefit from their crimes. Prison sentences should also be imposed, so we get some of these people off the streets and we’d like to see big fines imposed.
“Currently, there is no real deterrent for those caught stealing textiles. The largest fine we have seen for this crime is just £1,000.”
At the meeting, the police, the Government and stakeholders shared intelligence on current theft hotspots around the country. Although Lomotey could not disclose exactly what cases were discussed in the meeting, he said that it is likely the groups carrying out both thefts from door to door collections and textile banks, are linked. It is thought a small number of people are co-ordinating the larger groups of thieves.
Defra estimates losses to the textile industry due to theft each year amount to between £7m and £12m.
Clothes Aid is working with others in the industry such as the Textile Recycling Association, as well as the Association of Police Chief Officers, the National Fraud Desk to tackle to problem of textile theft.