Nature and Environmental Crime

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24 October 2011

The Italian Interagency Law-Enforcement College of Advanced Studies hosted CEPOL Course No. 9/2011 entitled “Nature and Environmental Crime” in Rome on 26 – 30 September 2011.

The course focused on environmental crime, particularly with regard to national and European legislation, forms of cooperation in combating environmental crime, the CITES convention for the protection of endangered plant and animal species, law enforcement response to environmental crime, as well as case studies on illegal activities involving waste trafficking, illegal trade in endangered species of flora and fauna, hunting, farming and farm produce.

The event was organised, for the first time, by the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (CFS), the Italian National Corps of Forest Rangers, with the support of Malta and Spain, and input from Eurojust.

The course was attended by 19 participants from fifteen EU Member States, plus one representative from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and one from Europol.

College director and CEPOL GB voting member Vincenzo Giuliani opened the proceedings. In his introductory remarks, Mr Giuliani emphasised how Italy has been a strong supporter of a course on environmental crime and has advocated follow-up courses to further explore the matter – considering, inter alia, the experience gained in the field and the significant human and investigative resources used to counter the infiltration of waste management processes by organised crime.

The course was introduced by Mr Donato Monaco, head of Tuscany’s regional CFS headquarters. Mr Monaco also provided an overview of the characteristics, duties and organization of the Corps.

On day one of the course, Mr Pablo Salazar from Europol kindly delivered a presentation and examined the issue of EU police cooperation in the fight against environmental crime. Mr Stefano Maglia, University of Parma, gave an in-depth presentation on national and European environmental legislation.

The representatives from Spain and Malta made a valuable contribution which mainly focused on the environmental issues faced by their countries, with case studies providing examples of illegal trade in flora and fauna (Mr Jesus Galvez Pantoja, Spain), and illegal hunting (Mr Ramon Mercieca, Malta) respectively. Both experts actively participated in all of the course activities including moderating the working group sessions and facilitating participant interactions.

The second day of the course was conducted at the CFS airbase, where Mr Raffaele Coppola illustrated the tools available for deploying an effective airborne response to environmental crime, and for preventing and fighting forest fires. The latter, in Italy, are mainly cases of arson and destroy thousands of hectares of woodland each year.

Course participants then visited the CFS Scuola Ispettori (senior NCOs) of Cittaducale, near Rieti. Mr Amedeo De Franceschi dealt with illegal activities relating to farming and farm-produced food. In the afternoon, the experts set up two working groups and debated case studies and best practice in the areas of waste and the preservation of flora and fauna respectively.

The work of the two groups highlighted the following points:

  • Obtaining accurate information for environmental investigations, from open sources, like the Internet, or official sources, such as administrative authorities or police records is possible.
  • When possible, add another kind of penal offence to environmental investigations.
  • The necessity to encourage Europol to launch the ENVICRIMENET project.

During the visit, participants were shown the technical equipment available to the CFS. In the stimulating closing session, held in the Great Hall and attended also by participants of the training course for CFS Ispettori, the Director of the Cittaducale College, Mr Umberto D'Autilia, outlined the training system put in place within the Corps. Mr Marco di Fonzo examined, sometimes using video presentations, the causes of forest fires, the psychological profile of arsonists and operational procedures for preventing and fighting environmental crime. CEPOL attendees were also made aware of how IT and satellite-based procedures are used for investigative purposes. In particular, they were shown examples of the use of technology in woodland areas (environmentally-friendly cameras, sensors, etc.).

On the third day of the course, as a logical supplement to the presentation on law enforcement response to environmental crime delivered by Mr Giuseppe Persi, our CFS colleagues further examined their duties and responsibilities in relation to this phenomenon. In particular, Mr Giovanni Coviello gave an outline of wildlife crime, while Ms Luisa Corbetta’s presentation dealt with the CITES convention and its application. Ms Cristina Avanzo talked about illegal activities relating to animal cruelty. Mr Marco Avanzo illustrated investigations into environmental crime through case studies. That afternoon Mr Carlo Bellotti (from the Carabinieri Corps) and Mr Valerio Cappello (from the CFS) demonstrated additional case studies illustrating investigations into and ways to tackle environmental crime. Mr Erwin Verheuge, from Belgium, presented a manual written within the context of the EU AUGIAS project.

On the final day of the course, after an interesting presentation on EU cooperation in the fight against environmental crime, given by Mr Andrew Crookes (Eurojust), and the workshop conclusions (as summarized by Malta and Spain), the course came to a close with concluding remarks by the Director of the Interagency Law-Enforcement College of Advanced Studies, Mr Vincenzo Giuliani and by the Chief of the National Corps of Forest rangers, Mr Cesare Patrone. The participants were presented with a certificate of attendance, during an impressive ceremony held in one of the most prestigious lecture halls of the Interagency College.

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