A Call for Evidence has been launched which aims to enable a stakeholders to have their say on ways to crack-down further on organised crime groups (OCGs), who profit from waste crime.
Waste criminals act illegally to evade landfill tax, undercut responsible waste disposal businesses, operate illegal waste sites, export waste illegally and fly-tip – blighting communities with bad smells, fly infestations and fires, government says.
Michael Gove – “We must crack-down on these criminals who have no regard for the impact they have on peoples’ lives. The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these antisocial and inexcusable crimes.”
Their activity cost the English economy more than £600m in 2015 and the review announced is the next step in the government’s ongoing work to tackle the crime.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “Organised criminals running illegal waste dumps and fly-tipping are blighting local communities. They cost our economy vast amounts of money, pollute our environment and harm our wildlife.
“We must crack-down on these criminals who have no regard for the impact they have on peoples’ lives. The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these antisocial and inexcusable crimes.”
The review will:
- Consider the types of crimes being committed and organised crime groups involved
- Consider the environmental, community and economic impacts of serious and organised waste crime
- Consider how the Environment Agency, other organisations, and the law enforcement system can work together to tackle the threat
- Make recommendations for a strategic approach to serious and organised waste crime.
Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, said: “Organised crime groups exploit any opportunity to make money. Our local communities are being scarred by the illegal dumping of waste, while at the same time people are being conned into placing contracts with dodgy waste firms.
“We are committed to ending this scourge and I look forward to exploring what more Defra, local authorities, the private sector and police can do on this issue.”
More than 850 new illegal waste sites were discovered by the Environment Agency in 2016-17. While an average of two illegal waste sites are shut down every day, they continue to create severe problems for local communities and business, particularly in rural areas, as well as posing a risk to key national infrastructure.
A study by the Home Office suggests that criminals may also use waste management activities such as operating illegal waste sites as a cover for crimes such as theft, human trafficking, fraud, drugs supply, firearms supply and money laundering.
Since 2014, the Government has given the Environment Agency an extra £60m towards enforcement work to tackle waste crime. This extra investment has shown a return of about £5 for every £1 extra spent.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said: “Last year, we closed down two illegal wastes sites a day and were granted new powers to complement our existing enforcement efforts. Our officers are also out in communities, preventing and disrupting criminals through our intelligence led investigations, and also dealing with the consequences of illegally dumped waste to the environment and the wider community.
The review is due to be completed by September 2018.
CIWM has welcomed the Defra-led review into waste crime, whether the Environment Agency has the right powers, capabilities and capacity to tackle the threat, and what is needed to support effective working with other law enforcement bodies.
Dr Colin Church – “By its very nature, serious and organised crime often takes place out of plain sight. This means that intelligence gathering and sharing, as well as collaborative working and the pooling of resources between the various law enforcement agencies, is essential.”
CIWM chief executive Dr Colin Church, who has been invited to be on the advisory panel for the review, said: “The threat posed by serious and organised crime in the waste sector is significant and growing. It undermines the legitimate resources and waste industry, blights communities, and costs society and the taxpayer. In 2015, for example, the estimated economic impact of waste crime in England was at least £604m.
“By its very nature, serious and organised crime often takes place out of plain sight. This means that intelligence gathering and sharing, as well as collaborative working and the pooling of resources between the various law enforcement agencies, is essential.
“The Government and the sector have already been working closely together to tackle this scourge and this review will put forward recommendations to help develop even smarter and more effective frameworks to deal with this problem.”