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Call for concerted approach to Scottish waste crime

Specialists from local government and regulators in Scotland have called for a joint national approach to waste crime.

The move follows the latest meeting of Local Authority Recycling and Advisory Committee’s (Larac) ‘Waste Crime Working Group’ which considered waste crime at HWRCs in Scotland and the difficulty of gaining successful prosecutions.

The group, which included representatives from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), consultancy Valpak and councillors from Aberdeenshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire and West Lothian, is compiling a best practice guide to help Scottish local authorities deal with waste crime.

Stratton MacDonald, South Ayrshire’s waste strategy group leader, told MRW that members were looking at CCTV, automatic number plate recognition and height restriction barriers at waste facilities but these options had to be backed by “robust” policies.

The group called for a joint national approach involving Police Scotland, Sepa, local authorities and Zero Waste Scotland.

Bobby Gavin, Valpak account manager, said the police recommended not looking at the value of thefts but to consider the full impact and cost. An example was when the theft of a fridge component, worth a few pence, actually renders a £60-£70 machine redundant.

Sepa representative Robert Guthrie confirmed that organised crime was almost certainly involved in HWRC theft, either first hand or further down the chain, so thefts may be a small part of overall criminality in local areas.

A proposal for an action plan was dropped in favour of a best practice guide, which would assist Scottish council staff and give an overview of legal responsibilities. MacDonald said: “All the councils are doing their bit, but they are not all doing the same, so we are trying to come up with a guidance document in the summer.”

The document would cover:

  • HWRC layouts
  • Staff awareness
  • Record keeping
  • Guidance on environmental law
  • Police guidance
  • Site working plans
  • Actions in the event of waste crime

The group has met twice and will continue meeting every three months while implementing the guidance.

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