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Agency downgrading pollution prosecutions

Posted on 2nd August, 2022

The Guardian has reported that England’s Environment Agency has downgraded 93% of prosecutions for serious pollution over four years, despite recommendations from frontline staff for the perpetrators to face the highest sanction according to a leaked report seen by the paper’s reporters.

The EA receives over 100,000 incident reports a year, every one of which is recorded and assessed. Of 495 serious pollution investigations which were recommended for prosecution only 35 cases were taken forward to prosecution. 

Agency downgrading pollution prosecutions
The Environment Agency receives over 100,000 incident reports per year

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said the regulator does not comment on leaked documents. However, they said it does:

“consider, record and prioritise all incidents – with all breaches and offences reported to us undergoing a robust initial assessment.  We have a wide range of enforcement options, including civil sanctions, enforcement undertakings, and in some circumstances, advice and guidance. Where prosecution is appropriate, we pursue robustly and in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which sets out that the evidence must provide a realistic prospect of securing a conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.  Over 90% of our prosecutions are successful, and recent outcomes such as the £90m fine of Southern Water Services show a clear and welcome trend towards much bigger fines against offenders in appropriate cases.”

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