Environmental crime is generally used to describe any illegal activity that harms the environment. It can also have serious human health and social impacts. This POSTnote outlines the different types of environmental crime and options for tackling them.Jump to full report >>
The European Commission defines environmental crime as “acts that breach environmental legislation and cause significant harm or risk to the environment and human health”. However, there is no universally agreed definition. It has been linked to other types of serious crime, including the drugs and arms trade, human trafficking, and, according to Interpol, the funding of terrorist organisations. Environmental crimes are often considered a low priority by governments, as effects are generally indirect. Europol has identified two primary categories of environmental crime in Europe:
Environmental crime also incorporates illegal resource extraction - including fishing - pollution, and fraud around sustainability and carbon trading permits. Other crimes may be more significant outside of the EU. UK law on aspects of both of these crimes is derived from transnational treaties that are written into EU law. Wildlife and waste crime are the focus of this POSTnote.
Key points in this POSTnote include:
POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:
*Denotes people who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.
Authors: Jonathan Wentworth; Daniella Rabaiotti
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.