MORE than 20 people are being investigated following an operation to tackle waste crime in and around Chester.

Officers pulled over target vehicles that had been spotted via ANPR cameras.

They also performed stop checks near to particularly busy arterial routes into Cheshire.

Cheshire Police’s Rural Crime Team led the five-day operation in collaboration with the Environment Agency and three local authorities (Warrington Borough Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council).

Vehicles and companies believed to be involved in the illegal disposal or management of waste were targeted between Monday, February 15 and Friday, February 19.

Everything from small commercial carriers to large HGVs were stopped to check if they were transporting waste, and if they had the necessary licences and paperwork to do so.

In total, more than 100 vehicles were pulled over during the multi-agency operation.

Many of the vehicles were searched and more than 10 of them were subsequently seized.

In addition, more than 50 tickets were issued, for a range of offences.

Sergeant Rob Simpson, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “Waste crime is a big problem across the country.

“It causes significant environmental and public health problems, blights local communities and drains the UK economy of hundreds of millions of pounds a year in clean-up costs and lost tax revenues, and those involved in waste crime are often involved in other serious criminal activity, including large scale fraud and in some cases modern slavery.

“We take waste crime extremely seriously at Cheshire Constabulary.

“We have been liaising with the Environment Agency to identify and tackle organised crime groups and anyone else who breaks the law by conducting unlicensed collection, transportation and disposal of waste, including toxic waste.

“Acting on the intelligence gathered, target vehicles and companies were located and stopped during the five-day operation, called Operation Permits.

“Any other vehicle with the capacity to transport waste illegally was also stopped and checked.

“The Rural Crime Team was assisted by local officers, the Motorcycle Unit, the Roads and Crime Unit, the Commercial Vehicle Unit, the police drone and members of our Special Constabulary.

“Environment Agency and local authority waste enforcement officers also took part in the operation, which saw us stop, search and seize a substantial number of vehicles and begin appropriate investigations for each case.

“More than 20 people are being investigated in the aftermath of Op Permits.

“The operation was a success and we will continue to target those who use our roads to commit waste crime.”

Stop checks were carried out near to particularly busy arterial routes into Cheshire

There were five bases for the stop and check operation. They were in Chester, Warrington, Crewe, Macclesfield and Northwich.

Both large and small (fly-tipping) illegal waste disposal was targeted during the operation.

David Keane, the police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “Waste crime is a blight on our communities.

“It poses a real threat to the environment, causing nuisance, environmental contamination and public health problems, is expensive to clean up and can also harm the economy by taking business away from legitimate, responsible firms and damaging the reputation of the waste and resource management industry."