INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working Group (PCWG) will meet in Glasgow for the first time today for a three day conference, to share experiences and explore new ways of disrupting global pollution crime.
The PCWG brings together 30 countries from around the world and high on this year’s agenda will be opportunities for the development of information sharing and intervention initiatives targeting the illegal trans-frontier shipment of hazardous wastes and other pollution crime priorities.
A 2014 study estimated that crime associated with the waste industry impacts on the UK economy in the region of £568m per year.
“Trans-national organised crime groups across the world change their operations quickly to evade our investigative actions, so we have to be equally dynamic and adaptive. That means we need to think differently and explore new tools to stay one step ahead”
The event also provides an opportunity for Scotland’s law enforcement and regulatory agencies to highlight their work in tackling serious environmental waste crime through multi-agency partnership working.
On Wednesday this group will report to INTERPOL’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee (ECEC) Advisory Board, which is currently chaired by Calum Macdonald, Executive Director at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and will also be meeting in Glasgow.
Calum Macdonald, Executive Director at SEPA, said: “Environmental crime is a threat to the world’s environment and economy and we are at a cross roads in how we now respond to this crisis. It is not something that we can tackle as individual organisations or countries.
“Trans-national organised crime groups across the world change their operations quickly to evade our investigative actions, so we have to be equally dynamic and adaptive. That means we need to think differently and explore new tools to stay one step ahead. INTERPOL has been at the forefront of these transnational investigations since 1992 and in SEPA we’re looking to play our part in this work, while recognising that the scale and coordination of the efforts have to be increased and widened in scale and scope.”
Joseph Poux, Deputy-Chief of Environmental Crimes Section, US Department of Justice and Chair of the Pollution Crime Working Group, said: “Criminals do not respect borders. To the contrary, they use geographic boundaries to conceal their illegal activities and to provide “safe havens” for themselves and assets derived from their crimes. In addition, they have access to sophisticated tools and technology that allow them to better conceal their criminal activities. To combat these criminals and establish effective deterrence, all countries must work collaboratively to share information, develop investigative best practices, and coordinate enforcement strategies.”
Also on Monday the Cabinet Secretary for Justice chairs a meeting of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh. Police Scotland, the Crown Office, Local Authorities and the Third sector are all represented on the taskforce along with SEPA, where we are working together to detect environmental crime in Scotland making this one of the most hostile areas in the world for criminals to operate.
Deputy Crown Agent Lindsey Miller, who leads the Disrupt strand of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce, said: “By working closely together, COPFS and SEPA have successfully disrupted the activities of individuals and companies who have attempted to profit from environmental crime.
“A series of high profile convictions and the imposition of significant fines, and confiscation orders under the proceeds of crime legislation has shown that we will rigorously pursue those who seek to degrade our environment for their own greed.
“Scotland is leading the way because of the excellent partnership between SEPA and the specialist prosecutors tasked with tackling both wildlife and environmental crime and serious and organised crime.”