Record number of waste criminals now behind bars
The number of waste offenders sent to prison has almost trebled in the past three years, according to the Environment Agency.
The Agency's first annual waste crime report released today reveals that 335 individuals and companies were prosecuted in 2011 for serious waste crimes.
Of those, 16 were handed custodial sentences for major offences including running large-scale illegal waste sites and industrial-scale dumping. Just six offenders were sent to prison in 2009.
The study also shows a rise in the number and size of financial penalties handed out to waste criminals.
Last year, the courts issued £1.7m in fines for serious waste offences - nearly £800,000 more than the previous year. The highest single fine issued in 2011 was £170,000 - three-and-a-half times more than the biggest fine served in 2010.
The courts also ordered a total £2.2m worth of assets to be confiscated from criminals who had made money through illegal waste activity.
While more than 750 large-scale illegal waste sites were shut down in the past year, the number of sites detected has continued to grow because of increased intelligence developed by the Agency's new £5m illegal waste sites taskforce.