Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Act ensures that crime does not pay

We work with the Proceeds of Crime Act regarding individu­als who commit environmental crime. Asset recovery powers must be exercised in a way considered best calculated to contribute to the reduction of crime, by disrupting criminal networks and depriving them of illicit earnings.

The Environment Agency (EA) uses proceeds of crime legislation in the same way as other law enforcement agen­cies, including the police and the National Crime Agency (NCA). Criminal opportunities and the financial benefit they can bring have grown rapidly, particularly in the waste industry. The EA’s response has been to professionalise its approach.

The work is carried out by a dedicated financial investigations team, which is currently being expanded. It is regulated by the NCA Proceeds of Crime Centre, which offers us sup­port, guidance and updates on current legislation.

The teams’ responsibilities include gathering financial intelligence in relation to crim­inal activity, working with the EA intelligence team and exter­nal partners. Investigators gather financial information to assist in the criminal investigation and pre-prepare evidence for confiscation regarding the Act in Crown Court.

This may result in our legal team making application to the court, after conviction, for proceeds of crime action to commence. A confiscation order, which would remove the criminal benefit for the indi­vidual or limited company, may be granted by the court.

The value of the order is cal­culated to include all realisable assets of the defendants, up to the value of their benefit from the criminal activity. Failure to pay the order in full can result in a prison sentence, and the order still has to be paid.

The EA has been using pro­ceeds of crime legislation since 2008 and sometimes works with regional asset recovery teams and local police. Since then, a dedicated team of financial investigators has been formed. So far, orders to the amount of £10.9m have been granted by the Crown Court on behalf of the EA.

Where an innocent land owner has been a victim of an illegal waste site, the court can award compensation. If pro­ceedings under the Act are ongoing, the compensation will be paid from the amount con­fiscated from the defendant by way of the confiscation order.

The EA has successfully made application for confiscation orders, where the court has ordered compensation be paid to the victim. For exam­ple, an individual appeared before Stafford Crown Court and was ordered to pay more than £29,000 in confiscation, and compensation was then awarded to an elderly couple whose land had been used to deposit illegal waste. The indi­vidual had to sell his property to pay the victim in full.

We hope the work we do offers some reassurance to legitimate waste operators, showing that we actively look to disrupt and deter those who are undercutting legitimate business.

Fiona Havercroft is the team leader at the Environment Agency

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.