The Fight against Environmental Crime:
the first ever European Environmental and Financial Expert Meeting (EFEM)
On 10 and 11 May 2016, as part of the Dutch EU Presidency, EnviCrimeNet (ECN*) held an Expert Meeting at Europol The Hague. The theme of this meeting was the removal of the proceeds of environmental crime.
Such a meeting, with the objective of better facilitating the removal of money from those involved in environmental crime, had never been organised before at European level.
Environmental and Financial Experts from European Criminal Investigation Agencies met to exchange experiences with representatives of 23 countries, as well as Europol, Interpol, Eurojust, the European Commission, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate – the Intelligence and Investigation Service, and the police.
"Discover the truth by following the money."
Mr Roel Willekens, chairman of ECN and programme manager of the Dutch Environmental Crime Police: "The motive for criminals to commit environmental crimes is money. So take away their money, and you'll hit them hardest. Following the money helps to gain an insight in suspects and possible criminal networks. This way, you also prevent the money from being used for future criminal purposes."
The meeting was opened by Mr Oldrich Martinu, the Deputy Director of Europol's Governance Department, and Mr Stoffel Heijsman, Environmental Crime portfolio holder of the Dutch Police.
"Europol is ready to provide support in operations."
Mr Martinu: "Financal investigation resources are a precious tool when it comes to fighting crime in Europe, but they are not (yet) fully integrated in environmental law enforcement. This is why the true scale of the financial profits for criminals remains unknown for now. Europol supports the intitiative of EnviCrimeNet and the Dutch EU Presidency and takes the financial expertise needed to improve the fight against environmental crime to the next level."
"Get to know each other, learn from each other, exchange experiences, and collaborate."
Mr Heijsman: "I believe that this Expert Meeting and its focus on financial investigation has taken us to a higher level. We will increase our efficiency by collaborating on a multidisciplinary level, both nationally and internationally. This meeting is a good start for broadening our expertise by learning from each other and by exchanging experiences."
The recommendations we received after the meeting have been laid down in a report.
The participants may utilise them in their own countries or organisations.
* ECN is an informal network of environmental protection officers within the EU.
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