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The Environment Agency leads a multi-agency body to tackle waste crime

The Environment Agency has joined forces with other enforcement agencies to tackle waste crime. Principally, this unit has set its sights on cracking down on fly-tipping, illegal waste sites and fraud. Compliant waste operators should welcome this long-overdue shake-up.


Organised waste crime is estimated to cost the UK economy at least £600 million a year and the Environment Agency (EA) stopped over 800 illegal waste sites. The EA have seen steadily increasing success in this area. For example, in 2019 they conducted their largest ever sting operation in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire. Establishing the Joint Unit for Waste Crime will expand upon the EA’s progress.

In a press release, the UK Government outlined their waste crime strategy. A multi-agency body will be established. This unit will incorporate elements of law enforcement agencies, the EA, Natural Resources Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the police, HMRC and the National Crime Agency. Through cooperation, this new task force endeavours to push for heavier fines and greater custodial sentences. They aim to clamp down on offences like fly-tipping, illegal waste sites and fraud. The Unit will prioritise the sharing of information, intelligence and resources. Subsequently, this will improve their agility in investigating criminal waste operations.

Summarising the task force’s objective, environment secretary Theresa Villiers asserted:

“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”

Stay updated

With rising waste management costs and increasingly complex legislation, it is important that industry managers stay informed. Here at Wiser Environment, we have extensive experience in the field of waste and resource management. If you have any questions or queries about the latest updates on waste crime initiatives, then contact us or call our team on 01480 462232.