The UK's Environment Agency has, this month, announced that the number of waste-related criminal convictions for the year 2012/13 fell to a record low, with levels dropping by almost 100 convictions since 2011.
The Environment Agency (EA) has celebrated this drop in waste crime thanks to focussing its efforts on prevention rather than prosecution, including the closure of illegal waste sites (which may illegally store or dispose of specific wastes). The agency stressed that the drop in figures and refocusing of efforts is a much more effective solution to waste crime, stating that chasing prosecutions â€œisn't the only solution to waste crime"
The number of prosecutions for 2012/13 ws down to 171 from 249 in 2011/12, and down even further from 262 in 2010/11 â€“ thanks in part to a reduction in overall offences, as well as a greater focus on intelligence, investigation and prevention.
This is evident from the agency's figures for the number of illegal waste sites shut down in the last years â€“ figures released in their annual report (Link removed) show a huge 70% increase in the number of sites shut down. In the year 2012/13, the agency reported that it had shut down 1,279 illegal waste sites â€“ equating to an average of 25 sites shut down each week.
The EA attributed the correlation between drop in conviction and rise in shut down illegal sites to its shift in focus two years ago, which was when it set up its new Illegal Waste Sites Taskforce. The purpose of this taskforce was to tackle illegal waste sites through investigation rather than prosecution.
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