The fight against environmental crime is being stepped up in a new partnership between the Environment Agency and Carrickfergus-based Forensic Science.
Waste is increasingly a lucrative business. Yet those who process and dispose of rubbish illegally are not only breaking the law, they are putting the environment at serious risk.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI), which has its headquarters at Seapark, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which cements existing partnerships and points to improved links in the future.
David Small, NIEA chief executive, said: “Forensic Science has world-class staff and cutting-edge facilities. This MoU builds on the connection between our two organisations - we have previously sought their expertise and submitted materials to their laboratory for examination.
“This is the next step of a building the relationship and looking at more ways of working together.
“Our own staff have been making great strides in combatting environmental crime.
“This agreement allow us to intensify those efforts through greater access to the outstanding resources of FSNI.”
Commenting on the initiative, which will see the two organisations work closely to enhance their efforts in targeting criminals, Stan Brown, FSNI’s chief executive, said: “There are many areas where FSNI can provide forensic support to the work of the Environmental Crime Unit.
“We welcome this opportunity to add value to the efforts of NIEA, and build upon previous contacts with their investigators.
“It is clear there is a strong link between us and a real spirit of co-operation. We look forward to working with NIEA in future.”
Forensic Science Northern Ireland is an agency within the Department of Justice and is responsible for the provision of impartial scientific advice and support.
In collaboration, the Environment Agency and FSNI will look to reduce crime and at the same time improve the environment.
Derek Williamson, NIEA’s head of Environmental Crime, stated: “NIEA is targeting the large-scale criminal enterprises which blight our landscape and show a complete disregard for the environment. “
He continued: “These are sophisticated illegal operations which process and dispose of waste - but all rubbish comes with a trail. With the help of NIFS, we will be able to trace and apprehend those responsible, with a view to securing convictions in the process.”