The fifth EnviCrimeNet Annual General Meeting, hosted by the Italian Corpo Forestale dello Stato (CFS) and the Italian Carabinieri, was held on 21 and 22 October in Milan (Italy). Experts and practitioners from Europol, the European Commission and 16 European countries, met to discuss best practices, latest developments and challenges posed by environmental crime.
For the last five years, Europol has provided the permanent Secretariat for this informal network of practitioners combating environmental and wildlife crime.
The two-day meeting covered wildlife-related crimes, with a particular focus on illegal waste trade, criminal behaviour in relation to safety and industrial plants, and illegal logging. The joint EnviCrimeNet/Europol Intelligence Project on Environmental Crime (IPEC) presented its final results, the IPEC Report and a related upcoming Background Paper.
Among the meeting's conclusions, a number of projects and further recommendations for law enforcement and other stakeholders were proposed. Experts agreed that, while it is often believed that poaching and illegal hunting is primarily a problem in African or Asian countries, the illegal hunting, trafficking and breeding of wolves is a problem for many European countries. Other concerns in Europe are the illegal logging and timber trade, as well as the health and safety dangers posed by the illegal textile waste trade. In particular, the huge illicit profits gained through logging and textile waste trade require increased focus from law enforcement as well as more public awareness.
Other outcomes from the meeting were:
- Spain decided to join the Steering Group of EnviCrimeNet.
- Mr Roel Willekens from the Dutch Police will chair the network for another year.
- During its Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2016, Dutch law enforcement authorities will put a focus on financial investigations related to environmental crimes.
- Slovakia will make environmental crime an important topic during their Presidency in the second half of 2016.
- France, represented by OCLAESP, intends to further increase its activities in relation to environmental crimes.
- The Italian Carabinieri will continue the EU-wide waste trafficking project TECUM.