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 published in 2015 was updated in 2020. The targets set for the period 2021–2026 are:
- To ensure the sharing of good practices, continuity and well-functioning cooperation between the authorities in preventing environmental offences
- To coordinate the performance-based and other management by the ministries with respect to environmental offences
- To continue the implementation of joint education on environmental offences
- To refine the available statistical and monitoring data and use it to combat environmental offences
- To take the need to combat environmental offences into account in international legislative projects. This includes following the trends in international and EU law concerning environmental offences
- To influence attitudes in order to prevent environmental offences in advance
- To follow the trends in international environmental crime and enhance interaction between national actors and those operating in international networks
The updated Strategy covers the years 2021–2026. A working group appointed by the Ministry of the Environment, composed of representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups, manages the implementation of practical measures. The new Action Programme covers the years 2021–2022. You can learn more about the activities of the working group implementing the measures to prevent environmental offences on the Government’s website.