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Harsher penalties lead to drop in waste crime

Fines double as Environment Agency steps up war on illegal dumping

Waste criminals prosecuted by the Environment Agency for serious illegal waste dumping can expect increasingly tough penalties, according to new figures released today.

The annually published Flycapture data – which keeps a record of flytipping offences across England and Wales – has shown that the Environment Agency’s tough stance on waste crime has led to fewer incidents of serious illegal waste dumping, but increased fines – and longer jail sentences – for those prosecuted.

The Environment Agency is responsible for dealing with the most serious incidents of illegally dumped waste – including large scale dumping of waste, incidents linked to organised crime, and hazardous or toxic waste. In 2008 the Environment Agency created a new National Environmental Crime Unit, made up of former detectives, to target organised waste crime in England and Wales.

The data reveals that:

In England and Wales during 2008-2009 the Environment Agency:
Dealt with a total of 818 illegal waste dumping incidents compared with 851 in 2007/8
Spent an estimated £118,000 on clean up
Took 196 prosecutions forward in relation to illegal waste activities
Secured more than £840,000 in fines – almost double the 2007/8 figure of £425,000.
The average fine per prosecution was £6,000 where a fine was the outcome – compared with £2,800 in 2008
8 offenders were given custodial sentences
14 offenders were given community punishment orders
3 offenders were put under a curfew order
Liz Parkes, Head of Waste and Resource Management at the Environment Agency, said:

"The increase in the level of fines reflects how seriously the Environment Agency is pursuing people who dump waste and the dim view that the courts hold of this crime.

"This is not about people putting rubbish out on the wrong day, or in the wrong bins. We concentrate on those individuals and companies whose illegal activities have the potential to cause serious damage to the environment and human health."

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