The fourth EnviCrimeNet Annual General Meeting, hosted by Europol in The Hague, took place on 19 and 20 November. For four years, the Netherlands has been chairing this network with Europol providing the secretariat for this informal network of practitioners combating environmental (and wildlife) crime, launched in 2011.
Apart from several presentations, mainly by law enforcement members, an introduction to the environmental application (app) of the Dutch National Police was given to the 43 delegates, who ranged from specialised investigators to specialised prosecutors. This app helps police officers to take the initial steps in combating environmental crime.
Most of the EU Member States were present and the network had the pleasure to welcome Slovakia into the Steering Group of EnviCrimeNet. Slovakia presented the proposal for an EU Action Plan, 'EnviCrime OFF', to combat environmental crime. The plan contains Work Packages such as creating a ‘manual’, as well as developing an effective IT application for citizens and police forces that can be used by all EU countries.
An ongoing academic study focusing on the illegal trade in caviar to the EU was also presented, including the over-exploitation of wild sturgeon stocks in Russia and other countries, and the involvement of criminal networks. Europe appears to be the largest importer of caviar. Other environmental crime activities were addressed. Of particular interest was the impact of the illegal transport of waste as well as counterfeit pesticides that have devastating effects on crops and soils.
The Intelligence Project on Environmental Crime (IPEC), a joint project of the EnviCrimeNet and Europol, presented the preliminary results of a questionnaire that was sent to all EU Member States - they received 52 responses from 36 jurisdictions. The results will help strategic decision-makers on the EU level to assess whether environmental crimes should be a priority in the fight against serious and organised criminal threats by European law enforcement authorities.
The network will continue to be supported by Europol. The next annual meeting is already planned for October 2015 in Milan.