EA targets waste criminals on ‘day of action’

On Thursday, 12 January, officers from the Environment Agency and the Joint Unit for Waste Crime visited a number of sites across England as part of operations to crack down on waste criminals.

As part of Operation Lyceum and Iris, lorries outside waste sites were proactively checked, with the objective of stopping the movement of ‘misdescribed waste’ and of preventing incorrect and unsafe disposal.Waste crime day of action

30 lorry drivers were spoken to regarding their cargoes, with nine lorries tested for hazardous waste. A stolen generator worth £15,000 was seized, and lorry drivers who tried to evade inspection were ‘flushed out’.

The operation involved collaboration with the police, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, and drivers were simultaneously checked for other offences such as tax evasion or vehicle faults.

“Last week we led another successful multi-agency day of action across the country. Working with partners including HMRC, DVSA and the police, we stopped and inspected trucks we suspected were involved in the movement of misdescribed waste,” said Phil Davies, head of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime. “Anyone involved in similar activities should be aware that we will use the capabilities of different agencies to track and stop them.”

The cost of waste crime

Costing the English economy approximately £1 billion per year, waste crime continues to be a focus for the EA. However, offenders are being held to account. The EA has disclosed that - between 2017 and 2020 - it ‘stopped illegal waste activity at 2,700 sites and initiated 191 prosecutions for illegal waste sites, with 39 prison sentences handed down’. Fines of over £1.1m for illegal waste sites were reportedly issued, as well as £5.5m in Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) confiscation orders.

Just in the year 2019/20, the EA says that it prosecuted just under 100 individuals and companies for waste crime offences. Fines exceeded £900,000, 28 custodial sentences were issued, and confiscation orders totalled £1m.

Reporting illegal waste activity

The Environment Agency has issued an invitation to anyone who sees or suspects illegal waste activity to report it annonymously to Crimestoppers: Give information | Crimestoppers (  or call 0800 555 111.

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