Environmental offences down from last year

Publication date 11.11.2022 12.05
News item

The number of environmental offences and those related to the natural resources dropped in 2021, compared to the preceding years. However, the offences endangering health and safety were increasing. Classified under the environmental offences, the minor violations were also fewer.

As a whole, the acts classified as environmental offences in 2021 were clearly down from preceding years. 

This data is available at the Review on Environmental Offences in 2021, published on the Police website. The review presents the environmental offences detected by the Finnish Police, Customs, Border Guard and National Prosecution Agency in 2017 to 2021. 

Environmental Offences under Chapter 48 of the Penal Code of Finland numbered 2021 in 447 while the corresponding number of 546 the year before. For example, offences related to the impairment of the environment were 182 (210 in 2020), aggravated forms on impairment  5 (7) while environmental misdemeanours 212(269).

Offences endangering health and safety were 539 in 2021, compared to 518 in 2020. Such offences include, for example, those related to explosives (133 in both 2021 and 2020) and carelessness in handling of explosives (539 in 2021 and 518 in 2020).

The environmental crime statistics by the preliminary investigation authorities are based on the legal classification used during the investigation. When the case proceeds to the consideration of charges by the prosecution and to court proceedings, the title of the offence may change. The review also includes examples of environmental offences under various classified titles as well as the statistics of the preliminary investigation authority and the courts of law.

Overview of environmental crime

The review of environmental offences is published on a yearly basis. The review highlights topical issues related to the prevention of environmental offences. 

- The 2022 review will present information on environmental crime in general and, for example, in light of the Finnish statistics, also discussing the national and international environmental crime threats, legislative amendments, the most recent case law as well as information on the roles and competences of various authorities in environmental crime prevention, Chief Superintendent Tuomas Pöyhönen of the National Police Board comments on the publication.

Constituted by authorities from various organisations, the national follow-up group for environmental crime produces an overview of the situation in the Finnish environmental crime scene. The follow-up group has issued its annual report since 1997. 

The Finnish actions to develop, follow and report on environmental crime as a collaborative effort by the authorities also enjoys a good international reputation.  
- Over the years, the follow-up group has made several recommendations to intensify the prevention of environmental crime and to develop the legislation and the cooperation between the authorities, and many proposals have also been implemented. For example, the drafting of a national environmental crime prevention strategy was originally an initiative of the follow-up group.

The strategy and the respective plan of action was a collaborative effort by the environmental supervisory and the preliminary investigation authorities.  The first update of the strategy was completed in early 2021, and it will be in force until the year 2026. The publication coincided with the fourth plan of action. The update of the plan of action for 2023-2024 will be prepared in the autumn of 2022. 

Intensified operations at grass-root level

The implementation group under the leadership of the Ministry of the Environment follows the materialisation of the plan of action. 

The local cooperation groups constituted in 2016 by environmental crime prevention authorities cover the entire country, and their operations are well established. Owing to operative projects planned ahead, new environmental crimes have been detected, otherwise not known to the authorities.  

- Since most environmental offences is so-called hidden criminality, the intensified detective cooperation between the authorities has borne fruit in the detection of these crimes. As the operations of the authorities were better organised during the past strategy period, the focus in environmental crime prevention is now on intensifying grass-root level operations. Another aim is prevention of environmental crime through improved public awareness of the obligations under the environmental and natural conservation legislation, by organising information campaigns on the relevant topics.  

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