Crime Scene Investigation
With illicit waste activity costing legitimate businesses up to £1 billion and contaminated ‘recycling’ shipments increasingly in the news, Annie Reece discovers how the Environment Agency cracks down on waste crime
It’s a cold, wet and dreary day in Lancashire. Rain spatters the windscreen of the unmarked car we’re driving in, as we brace ourselves for the kind of welcome we’re likely to get once we arrive. We’re here to check on the clean-up operations of a Burnley-based farmer who had been illegally sorting, storing and disposing of waste at several sites in the area. As an ex-sergeant, Maurizio Legname, now an investigator on the Environment Agency’s (EA) Environmental Crime Team, is no stranger to defensive welcomes. He tells me that you need thick skin to be in his line of work, as guilty parties can often be confrontational and aggressive when threatened by the strong arm of the law. “It’s part and parcel of a law enforcement job, to be met with aggression”, he tells me. “I’ve had it before where I’ve driven up to a suspected illegal waste site and been met with a group of aggressive and hostile men... but the dealings we’ve had with this guy in the past have been friendly.” I feel marginally reassured.