In Finland, the total number of offences affecting the environment has increased from the previous year.
According to a statement from the National Police Board, the number of environmental offenses, natural resource offenses and health and safety offenses provided for in the Criminal Code "has reached a record high."
These findings were published in the recent report of the Finnish Environmental Crime Monitoring Group.
"The increase in environmental crimes is partly explained by the more effective actions taken by the authorities to detect hidden crime, the more active role of private individuals in reporting crime thanks to the heightened awareness of environmental values and the increased financial penalties imposed under stricter waste management standards," says Arto Hankilanoja, Chief Superintendent of the National Police Board.
The Environmental Crime Report gives an up-to-date overview and information package on environmental offences and the environmental crime prevention policies adopted by the authorities.
"The Finnish model in the development and monitoring of environmental crime prevention, which emphasises the collaborative effort between the authorities, has been commended by the international community as a good practice and a great example," says Arto Hankilanoja, who chairs the National Environmental Crime Monitoring Group.
Regional cooperation groups formed by the authorities in the fight against environmental crime operate across the country and are well established. In addition, a number of co-operation groups have been appointed to address specific issues.
The co-operation groups have worked on improving the cooperation and exchange of information between authorities, organised joint training events and planned and carried out joint operations. Cooperation has provided effective tools for detecting environmental offences that otherwise would not have been investigated by the authorities.
"Illegal transnational waste trade, which presents a high risk for the environment, is a growing phenomenon, and some preliminary investigations have already been launched in Finland as well. In terms of illegal economic gain on a global scale, environmental crime is estimated to be nearing the value of arms and drug-related crime," Hankilanoja says.