TEN people are being investigated by Cheshire Police following a crackdown on waste crime in Northwich.

The force's rural crime team joined up with the Environment Agency and Cheshire West and Chester Council on a five-day operation last week.

Vehicles and companies believed to be involved in the illegal disposal or management of waste were targeted during Operation Permits.

Officers pulled over target vehicles that had been spotted via automatic number plate recognition cameras, while stop checks were also carried out.

Officers stop and search a van during the operation

Officers stop and search a van during the operation

Sgt 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."

Following stop checks in Northwich, 10 people are now being investigated for waste-related offences.

Nine tickets were also issued to drivers in Northwich for various issues, such as insecure loads, while a prohibition order was imposed to prevent a dangerous vehicle getting back on the road until it was made safe.

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

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

The force also worked with Warrington and Cheshire East councils to target vehicles in other key locations across the county – leading to more than 100 vehicles being stopped, more than 20 people being investigated for waste crime, more than 50 tickets being issued for offences and more than 10 vehicles seized.

Sgt Simpson added: “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 Operation Permits. Any other vehicle with the capacity to transport waste illegally was also stopped and checked.

One of the stop check points

One of the stop check points

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

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

Both large-scale illegal waste disposal and smaller-scale fly-tipping was targeted during the operation.

Nigel Glasgow, Cheshire’s Environment Agency area manager, said: "There are some tell-tale signs to be mindful of when dealing with a waste operator.

"Is the waste business only advertising on social media? Are the rates significantly cheaper? Are they insisting on being paid in cash only? These are some of the signs for a business operating illegally.

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"As a householder or business owner, you have a responsibility to check the legitimacy of anyone collecting waste from you."

Anyone with concerns about illegal or suspicious activity should contact police on 101.

Environmental incidents can also be reported to the Environment Agency 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 0800 807060.