Recent research suggests that fly tipping is the number one concern for local councils. If that’s the case, why are we seeing a rise of local vigilantes taking matters into their own hands? And why are prosecution rates so low?
Over a million fly tipping incidents were recorded in 2019, up 8 percent on the previous year and costing local councils, and the public, over £57 million in clearing up costs. But despite these spiraling clear-up costs and increasing incidents, prosecution rates are low. Since 2013 prosecution rates have only increased by 9 percent to a total of 2,397.
This growing problem was exacerbated further by the coronavirus pandemic. Fly tipping increased by 300 percent during the first national lockdown in March 2020, thanks to tip and commercial waste closures.
Fly tipping is often seen as a small fry crime. But there’s a darker side to what might seem like just an unsightly blight on the landscape. And a bigger reason why you should be taking fly tipping and prosecution more seriously.
The evidence gap
Fly tipping is a difficult crime to prove. Why? Culprits deliberately choose locations that are remote and not monitored. Darkness provides a convenient cover. It can drain already depleted resources (local councils have been stripped of 60% of central government funding since 2010).
But not everyone is as clever. Many fly tippers dump their rubbish in broad daylight, in busy locations and loaded with personal information. But without any proof and limited resources to monitor locations it’s hard to get a conviction.
It’s a chicken and egg situation. Some councils have introduced schemes like community skips to incentivise people to dispose of their waste correctly, but why is prosecution seen as a dirty word when it comes to fly tipping?
It’s true that evidence gathering is time-consuming and expensive work. It requires expertise, knowledge and an ability to be reactive at all times of the day. But there are big boons to investing in a slick evidence gathering operation within your council.
Tip of the iceberg
Our experience, reflected by findings from the Joint Unit for Waste Crime, is that fly tipping often forms part of larger commercial waste fraud and organised crime.
Commercial waste fraud alone diverts around £1 billion a year from the economy and the treasury. Not only is it in your benefit to collect evidence and get the offenders off the streets, the payback to the economy is huge.
And you’re no longer alone. The Joint Unit for Waste Crime connects law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency to join the dots between seemingly small incidents of illegal waste dumping and larger-scale criminal operations.
Many councils issue fixed penalty notices for fly tipping. But they don’t act as a deterrent to those with links to larger criminal operations and they don’t tackle the hidden issues that prosecution and evidence gathering uncover.
20% of councils still aren’t prosecuting anyone for fly tipping BUT 96% of fly-tipping prosecutions result in convictions.
Local councils have a pivotal role to play in the fly tipping jigsaw puzzle.
What can you do?
As a local council, what can you do to gather evidence that’s so vital for prosecuting offenders and uncovering the truth behind these pre-meditated crimes?
A quick google of CCTV in the prosecution of fly tippers brings back hundreds of results of cases where it’s been essential at catching the perpetrators. It’s the ace in your pack of cards when it comes to providing undeniable evidence and catching people in the act.
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. Camera evidence alone needs to be backed up with a stronger investigation to make your case undeniable. Scouring computer records, investigating and taking samples from the waste that’s been dumped and due diligence on the suspect can result in a much larger picture of their involvement in crime.
Undertaking this kind of evidence gathering isn’t something that most councils have expertise in, but it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it.
It’s time to shut down the criminals who are blighting people’s lives and the landscape.
What can ISG do for you?
We offer surveillance and Intelligence gathering to get you undeniable evidence that stands up under scrutiny, which is admissible in court. We have an armoury of tactics and equipment, Covert remote camera systems and CCTV, drones, video and physical surveillance help us create detailed reports that strengthen your case for fly tipping convictions.
We can work with local councils, private land owners and corporations to give you a greater chance of catching the culprits.
Get our investigation team on your side.