The Environment Agency is urging the public to report suspected criminals involved in the illegal export of WEEE.
Speaking to MRW, EA intelligence manager Trevor Parish said that it had launched an illegal WEEE crackdown project called Securing Compliant Waste Export last September and had so far made 10 arrests on suspected organised criminals involved in the illegal export of WEEE.
Parish said: We are appealing to industry and the public to report those who are involved in illegally exporting WEEE. Any information we receive will be treated in the strictest confidence.
In June, the EA raided two industrial sites in Rainham, east London and Essex to stop the suspected illegal export of WEEE from the UK. The EAs intelligence team found 364 storage and shipping containers packed with WEEE such as old TVs, computer monitors and fridges suspected of being destined for West Africa.
The EA were supported by officers from the Metropolitan and Essex Police services.
Stop notices were placed on shipping containers, preventing them from being moved. EA officers will now gather evidence at the two sites to determine the source of the electrical waste.
Parish said that the EA wanted to crack down on the big, the bad and the nasty. The EA acknowledge that the illegal export of WEEE being sent to countries such as West Africa is becoming an increasing problem. The EA state that equipment beyond repair is being stripped down for raw materials under appalling conditions.
Parish explained: It is not all about enforcement; it is about education as well. We want to step up enforcement against organised crime and also seriously educate the municipal sector and retail sector about their duty of care responsibilities.
This is a three-year project and we will be looking at the outcomes. This is not just about arresting people and taking them to court. This is also about bringing the commercial sector into compliance.
Parish said that some of the criminals who were illegally exporting WEEE also had clear links to other criminal activities, such as robbery, drugs and homicide. During the raid in Essex, the Metropolitan Police made one arrest on immigration matters. Parish added: Wherever there is money to be made those people are actively in it.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act the police have the powers to take away fancy houses, speedboats and cars.
Anyone with information regarding the illegal export of waste is asked to contact: