A taskforce dedicated to tackling serious and organised waste crime has been launched today (16 January), bringing together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency.

One of several initiatives in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) will conduct site inspections, make arrests and prosecutions and, upon conviction, push for heavy fines and custodial sentences.

Toby Willison, executive director of operations at the Environment Agency and chair of the JUWC board, said: “The war against waste crime just took a giant step forward.

“The launch of this new unit means we now have a full complement of partners across law enforcement as well as our counterparts in Scotland and Wales to bring down waste criminals for good.

“We will target serious and organised criminals across the country as they try to illegally exploit the waste industry and the environment. These criminal gangs need to know that we have them in our sights.”

The unit will tackle crimes such as the dumping of hazardous materials on private land and falsely labeling waste so it can be exported abroad to unsuspecting countries.

Serious crime

The creation of the JUWC was a recommendation in the Independent review into serious and organised crime in the waste sector, a report published by Defra in November 2018 and led by chief executive of science data company Hemera Lizzie Noel (see letsrecycle.com story).

In the report, the Home Office defines serious and organised crime as “individuals planning, coordinating and committing serious offences, whether individually, in groups and/or as part of transnational networks”.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Waste crime is a scourge on our environment and this new Joint Unit for Waste Crime will crack down on the criminals responsible

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