The first EFFACE Policy Brief, Limitations and challenges of the criminal justice system in addressing environmental crime, examines how environmental crime is a growing challenge for the EU and the criminal justice systems of its Member States. Case examples including illegal waste dumping provide a look at how an improved judicial understanding of the impact and severity of environmental crimes across the EU is needed to fight environmental crimes more effectively.
Considerable disparities exist between the criminal justice systems of Member States in the area of environmental crime. Also, environmental crime represents a minority of cases dealt with by judicial authorities, as a small percentage of offences committed daily are prosecuted. There are a variety of reasons for this, such as the difficulty of prosecuting environmental crimes across the EU. There may also be factors specific to legal systems that make severe criminal sentences for environmental crimes unlikely. The capacities of Member States (e.g. number of controls, existence of specialised units, availability of data, etc.) also play a role in determining the number of prosecutions and convictions for environmental crimes.
Criminal justice systems do not operate in isolation. They are part of the larger social, cultural, economic and political systems of Member States, and differences are evident in these systems. There are various alternatives to using the criminal system for preventing environmentally harmful conduct.
See EFFACE Policy Brief 1 for more on topics including:
- Obstacles to prosecution of environmental crimes
- Problems with definitions
- Overlap between criminal and administrative provisions
- Institutional framework and cooperation of relevant actors
- Role of NGOs