Six arrested following Environment Agency waste raids
Six people were arrested during dawn raids yesterday morning (10 March) following a multi-agency investigation, led by the Environment Agency (EA), into the illegal dumping of waste.
Of the arrests made, four related to waste offences and two to human trafficking offences.
The arrests came as a result of a nationwide investigation by the EA into the dumping of potential hazardous waste at illegal sites in Bristol, Scunthorpe and Newark.
The investigation, titled Operation Encore, is also looking at links to an abandoned waste transfer site in Orpington run by operators Waste4Fuel.
Police officers from Humberside, Nottinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire forces were assigned to support with the early morning raids.
Over 40 EA investigators led searches at the identified suspects’ home addresses and waste sites.
The multi-agency operation also involved The Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement unit and Social Services, as investigators suspected illegal workers were present at the targeted locations.
The six individuals arrested have been released on conditional bail to allow further enquiries to be made. Operation Encore is a large ongoing investigation and is expected to take a number of months to complete.
‘We take waste crime extremely seriously’
Andy Higham, Head of the Environment Agency’s National Investigation Team, said: “The Environment Agency will relentlessly target organised criminals who risk damaging health, livelihoods and the environment by trading in illegal and hazardous waste for criminal gain.
“Following a covert Environment Agency investigation we have worked with the police to arrest these suspects and secure evidence. Our enquiries will continue to probe the full extent of suspected offending.
“We take waste crime extremely seriously. This is a live and complex investigation. Anyone with further information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Government commits to tackling waste crime
Waste crime has gaining increasing prominence recently, and last year, the Resources Minister Dan Rogerson announced that central government would be allocating an extra £5 million would go towards cutting waste crime, which reportedly costs the UK up to £800 million a year.
Speaking about Operation Encore, Rogerson said: “Waste crime causes problems for local communities, undermines legitimate businesses and costs taxpayers. While it is not appropriate to comment on these arrests, we support the Environment Agency in taking a robust approach to tackle crime.”
Indeed, last month, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Government released a joint consultation on enhancing the EA and Natural Resources Wales’s enforcement powers for waste crime. And new sentencing guidelines advocating harsher penalties for those being tried for waste crime were published in 2014 by the Sentencing Council (SC) – a division of the Ministry of Justice – to ensure that court fines or jail sentences reflect the seriousness of the offences committed.
Find out more about how to crack down on waste crime in Resource 79.