Commons inquiry into environmental crime

The first of a series of inquiries into access to environmental justice has been announced by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The inquiry will look into environmental crime and the courts. Among the issues on which the Committee is inviting evidence is whether sentences are commensurate with the gravity of environmental crimes and act as a deterrent. The adequacy of existing guidance on sentencing practices and the degree to which it is actually followed by the courts will also be examined.

The inquiry is timely. A report on sentencing for environmental crimes has just been completed for the Government (see pp 10-11 ) as part of a wider review of environmental law which has spawned proposals for a specialist environmental tribunal.

Subsequent inquiries will cover wildlife crime and crimes "related to anti-social behaviour", but the Committee is also keen to receive suggestions for other areas of environmental crime which merit investigation.

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