Environmental offences are often crimes without an injured party, where the violated object of legal protection is the environment that belongs to all of us. Most often, the motive for an environmental offence is financial or other gain sought by the perpetrator. Prevention of environmental offences and establishing criminal liability can often prove challenging.
Compliance with environmental legislation is monitored through inter-authority collaboration by the centres for economic development, transport and the environment and the local authorities in charge of environmental protection and building supervision. In matters concerning environmental offences, the pre-trial investigation is carried out by the law enforcement authority and the consideration of charges by the prosecutor’s office. Customs and the Finnish Border Guard also play an important role in preventing and combating cross-border environmental offences.
Strategy for preventing environmental offences
The strategy for preventing environmental offences (2015), has the following objectives:
- Developing cooperation between authorities in preventing environmental offences
- Strengthening the performance guidance of ministries in matters related to environmental offences
- Planning joint training on the topic of environmental offences
- Refining the existing statistical and monitoring data and utilising it to combat environmental offences
- Evaluating the need to develop legislation at adequate intervals
- Influencing attitudes
- Monitoring the development of environmental offences at the international level and assessing the role of the authorities
The goal is to meet these targets by 2020. The implementation of practical measures is overseen by a working group appointed by the Ministry of the Environment including representatives from the relevant operators.