EA to dish out eco-ASBOs
Environmental criminals such as fly tippers and vandals are to face the same restrictive punishment as anti-social yobs.The Government has granted the Environment Agency new powers which will allow it to apply for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) to tackle the 'petty' crime of the environmental world.
Since their introduction in 1999 ASBOs have received a mixed press, as they are often reliant on the community policing the behaviour of those subjected to them and have been seen by many wayward youths as a badge of honour.
ASBOs usually aim to control the behaviour of persistent trouble makers using tools such as curfews or banning offenders from visiting named areas or communicating with certain people.
Those ignoring their ASBO restrictions face criminal prosecution.
The creation of the eco-ASBO will allow the EA to employ similar measures to combat problems such as fly-tipping, noise pollution, environmental vandalism and even graffiti.
Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said: "ASBOs are now well established as a key tool in the battle against the persistent yobbish behaviour, intimidation and vandalism that cause misery and fear for so many people.
"Research shows that public awareness of ASBOs and confidence in them is high. There is a simple reason for this - ASBOs work.
"I am therefore delighted that the Environment Agency will soon also be able to apply for ASBOs. Graffiti, vandalism and fly-tipping are a depressing and unsightly blight on many communities.
"They affect people's quality of life, increase fear of crime and degrade our public spaces. The use of this new power will lead to faster action against the perpetrators of the menace and significant improvements in the quality of the local environment."
Barbara Young, The Environment Agency's Chief Executive said: "These new powers are crucial in the battle to crack down and catch individuals who have no regard for our health and environment - far too many people and businesses are prepared to simply dump their waste and pollute the environment - costing industry and taxpayers millions.
"Now it will be possible for the Environment Agency to take rapid action to stop anti-social behaviour that harms the environment - in cases where an activity is causing harassment, alarm or distress to the community.
"The ASBO can set out strict conditions perpetrators must abide by, to ensure that communities are protected from those individuals who simply do not care for the surroundings that we live in.
"This is a vital backup to prosecution - it means the Environment Agency can do its job better - by stopping environmentally damaging anti-social behaviour in the first place, by preventing the ongoing suffering to those wishing to enjoy our countryside, parks and other green spaces."
By Sam Bond
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