Environment Agency targets Luton waste sites
The unannounced inspections were part of a wider British Transport Police operation targeting the theft of cabling and catalytic converters, which has been rising across the South East this year.
Officers from the Environment Agency visited 33 sites in Brentwood, Havering, Iver, Luton, St Albans and Watford as part of a multi-agency week of action targeting metal and vehicle recycling businesses.
They discovered that nine sites were operating illegally and found several catalytic converters.
At one site they uncovered a suspected case of modern day slavery. Meanwhile, 11 drivers of waste vehicles inspected during road-stops were given advice and guidance.
BTP officers searched sites for stolen metal, in particular catalytic converters that are stolen for the precious metals they contain. A surge in the value these metals has prompted a significant increase in thefts.
Officers also identified stolen equipment and checked waste companies’ financial records to ensure they adhered to the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act.
Alex Chown, environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: “This should serve as a warning to those who would flout the law that we and our partners are rooting out waste crime and we won’t hesitate to take action.
“Unscrupulous scrap metal sites are accepting stolen catalytic converters and cabling, further fuelling their theft across the South East.
“Joint investigations and enforcement will continue and if convicted, those responsible could face extensive fines and even prison sentences.”
Anyone who suspects illegal waste activity can report it on the Environment Agency's 24-hour hotline 0800 807060.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.