Seizing vehicles and plant from those involved in waste crime has already proved to be an effective tool both in terms of investigating waste offences and disrupting those involved in waste crime.
The vehicles seized by the Environment Agency (EA) have been involved in a variety of illegal activities, both large and small. But on all occasions there was good intelligence and evidence about their use in waste crime sitting behind the seizure.
It was no surprise to find that such vehicles have been displaying false or expired number plates; are stolen; have no tax or insurance; and that no-one has been able to provide the correct documentation to claim their entitlement.
The EA also has the power to seize plant used in the commissioning of a waste offence and has done so. Whatever the size of plant, we can always remove it. If you have no forklift truck, no excavator, no shred-der, no screener, you won’t be able to operate your illegal site.
Behind the scenes the EA has employed a national contractor that can arrive and remove vehicles with approximately an hour’s notice anywhere in England. Its operational officers have the authority and tools to seize vehicles and plant, allowing dynamic intelligence-led investigations.
But having such vehicles removed is not the end of the organisation’s work. Some of the seized vehicles have been sold and others destroyed. It then looks to maximise disruption to the offender by involving partners such as the police, the DVSA, HMRC and the DVLA.
The EA will be challenging drivers of HGVs it seizes. They can expect to be interrogated about why the vehicle had no tax, no insurance, was running on red diesel and was unroadworthy. The question they have to ask themselves is, “is it worth me losing my HGV licence and job for this?”
Businesses that have a vehicle seized can expect the EA to refer any suspected tax evasion to HMRC for them to reclaim or take other action, along with evidence to be put to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner about their suitability to hold an operator’s licence.
The power to seize could have a significant impact on the people and businesses whose vehicles are targeted. The power is here and we are geared up to use it to maximum effect.
Matthew Lee is technical adviser for enforcement and waste crime at the Environment Agency