A new task force has been launched in a bid to tackle serious and organised waste crime, such as dumping hazardous materials on private land and falsely labelling waste so it can be exported abroad to unsuspecting countries.
Serious and organised waste crime is estimated to cost the UK economy at least £600 million a year and it is believed that many perpetrators are often involved in other serious crimes including large scale fraud and in some cases modern slavery.
The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) will for the first time bring together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency in the fight against waste crime.
The new unit will conduct site inspections, make arrests and prosecutions and, upon conviction, push for heavy fines and custodial sentences.
This will allow Joint Unit partners to share their intelligence and resources to take swifter action when investigating criminal waste operations and other connected illegal activities, such as money laundering and human trafficking.
Recently departed Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Waste crime is a scourge on our environment and this new Joint Unit for Waste Crime will crackdown on the criminals responsible.
“Criminals are shifting their focus to waste crime as they expand their illegal activities and it’s vital that we take action.
“The Joint Unit will shut down illegal waste sites, catch criminals before they can do further harm to our environment and local communities, and make them pay for the damage they have done through custodial sentences and the payment of compensation.”