Two arrested in London for organised waste crime offences
Two men have been arrested in connection with organised waste crime offences as part of a nationwide investigation by the Environment Agency (EA).
The men, aged 29 and 46, were arrested at their homes in Chelsea and Hampstead Heath and taken in for questioning by the Metropolitan Police. Speaking on the arrests, EA team leader Mark Rumble said they were related to “extremely serious organised crime activity, which involves the dumping of illegal waste, fraud and money laundering” across Lancashire, Middlesborough, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Kent.
The investigation was undertaken by a multi-agency partnership of the EA, the Metropolitan Police Service and the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), with the three parties sharing intelligence.
According to a London GAIN co-ordinator, by sharing intelligence the network “aims to ensure that government agencies along with law enforcement will help reduce serious and organised crime in the most cost-effective way”.
In 2016, Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the EA, described waste crime as “the new narcotics”, commenting on the news that around 1,000 new illegal waste sites are found every year. To deal with the continuing problem, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in last year’s Autumn Budget that an extra £30 million of funding would be allocated to the EA over the next four years.
Further to this, new powers to come into force in spring 2018 (subject to parliamentary approval) will enable the EA to block access to problem and illegal waste sites and force operators to clear their waste. With waste crime costing industry and taxpayers £604 million every year, these measures were welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) as ‘critical’ to combating criminal activity in the sector.
There has also been an increased focus on householder Duty of Care, encouraging individuals and communities to take responsibility for where their waste ends up.
Rumble added: “We need everyone to play their part in the fight against waste crime - an issue that blights communities and drains valuable resources. Property and landowners are encouraged to be vigilant and report suspicious illegal activity to the Environment Agency.”
The EA has advised landowners to check property regularly and make sure it is secure, and to ensure that anyone leasing their land is complying with regulations.