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ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME - OUTCOME OF SEMINAR

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Law enforcement agents and environment experts meeting in London yesterday agreed that the first environmental crim...
Law enforcement agents and environment experts meeting in London yesterday agreed that the first environmental crime seminar had been a valuable step forward in the fight against environmental crime.

Environment secretary John Gummer welcomed the outcome of the seminar and said: 'Environmental crime is an issue of growing concern. The UK is at the forefront in Europe on this issue. I very much hope that this seminar will encourage the European Union member states to take a similar approach.

'The seminar has shown the commitment of all the relevant agencies to tackling the problem - and has generated wide-ranging suggestions for future actions.'

Summing up the day's events, seminar chairman Dinah Nichols, director-general of environmental protection at DOE, said: 'As one delegate said today, environmental crime is the newest kid on the block, with CFC and waste smuggling the newest of the new.

'There is no doubt that the problem is greater than is suggested by the current attention given to it. Today's seminar has shown that everyone is trying to work together, and that there are important issues for the enforcement agencies about priorities, and how they can increase their effectiveness.

'We need to focus on and analyse what is at stake, both in terms of the threats to the environment and the extent and value of criminal activity.'

Key recommendations included:

-- a call for increasing the effectiveness of inter-agency cooperation, developing contacts and information exchange, including the pooling of data;

-- developing the partnership approach, which has been successful in combating wildlife crime;

-- increasing education and awareness at all levels, eg of the role that industry and non-gove rnmental organisations can play;

-- assisting the judiciary on achieving consistency in the courts; and

-- developing specialist knowledge of these complicated areas within enforcement agencies.

These recommendations will be considered by the various agencies and government departments involved.

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