Police will develop a national strategy to help tackle charity collection crime, according to the head of the economic crime directorate of the City of London Police.
After a round-table meeting to discuss the issue last week, Detective Superintendent Steve Head said the police were looking into the problem with various charities and collection partners.
The problem includes bogus collections, with criminals pretending to be charities, collections that purport to be charitable when they are not, and the theft of bags that householders have left out for collection by bona fide charities.
"This is a serious issue and we cannot allow the actions of callous criminal gangs to undermine the excellent and very necessary work of our charitable sector," he said.
"Our aim is to identify those responsible and develop a national strategy for bringing the organisers of this deeply offensive crime to justice."
Some charities and collection partners have already started working with the police, according to Michael Lomotey, head of collections protection at the collections company Clothes Aid.
He said Clothes Aid met police, the Textile Recycling Association and charities that have suffered because of bogus collections towards the end of last year to discuss how best to gather intelligence on bogus collectors and aid police investigations.
"To get a police division that’s willing to look at this issue nationally is very welcome," he said.
Paul Ozanne, national recycling coordinator at the Salvation Army Trading Company, who was at the round-table discussion last week, said it was clear the police have accepted that bag theft is a growing problem that needs to be addressed.