Crackdown on environmental crime
Proposals to further protect Scotland’s environment.
Those who carry out criminal activity impacting on Scotland’s environment will be targeted through new legislation.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead set up the Environmental Crime Taskforce in November 2011, to crackdown on serious offenders and strengthen the response to criminal activity.
The Taskforce has now reported back with proposals to bolster the enforcement toolkit to tackle environmental crime, including:
- enhanced powers of entry
- power to seize documents in relation to suspected criminal activity
It comes as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) also announce the creation of a Waste Crime Team to lead investigation directed at tackling the most serious waste crime offenders in Scotland.
Accepting the recommendations laid out by the Environmental Crime Taskforce, Mr Lochhead said:
“Criminal activity which hurts our environment is something which the Scottish Government refuses to tolerate. We in Scotland have won the natural lottery and any activity which threatens our beautiful country must be stopped.
“There are a number of communities and businesses who are impacted, but also people living and visiting Scotland.
“The creation of the Waste Crime Team will undoubtedly help in the fight against those who hold no regard for Scotland’s environment. It is only right that we do all we can to make sure to deter criminals who give no consideration to Scotland’s environment.”
Calum McDonald, SEPA Executive Director said:
“SEPA’s new Waste Crime Team is another tool in our fight against serious organised crime in the waste industry. Legitimate businesses in Scotland need to know that while they are working to ensure they are compliant with the regulations, we are working hard to tackle the criminals who deliberately and persistently break the law.
“This approach is also a way for SEPA to support the agenda of the Scottish Government’s Environmental Crime Taskforce, which I chair, which seeks to identify opportunities for preventing, tackling and deterring environmental crime in Scotland and improve co-ordination between agencies.”
The Environmental Crime Taskforce (ECTF) has defined Environmental Crime as:
“an act or omission which directly or indirectly damages the environment (or has the potential to damage the environment) and which constitutes a breach of criminal law.”
Thanks to increased capacity and capability in support of the financial investigation of environmental crime, the first ever confiscation order was agreed under the Proceeds of Crime Act in May 2013, of £41,131.
The new recommendations build on the Taskforce’s achievements of raising awareness of environmental crime and strong partnership working with stakeholders, which have received international recognition in terms of best practice.
Members of Scotland’s Environmental Crime Taskforce were recently invited to Interpol’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee in Nairobi, to share valuable experience with international colleagues.
The Bill will introduce a new enforcement framework which will strengthen SEPA’s ability to impose penalties upon environmental criminals.
The Economy, Energy and Tourism committee has today agreed further improvements suggested by the ECTF at stage two of the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Bill. These will improve the effectiveness of SEPAs regulatory toolkit and provide the agency with stronger powers to investigate environmental crime.
For more on the Taskforce please visit http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/waste-and-pollution/environmental-crime-taskforce