Norwegian environmental offences sharply down

Chief prosecutor sees "turning point" after years of continuous increase in incidents

Reported serious environmental offences in Norway fell by an average of 19% from 1998 to 1999, according to figures released this week by the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim). The decline is described by the agency as "a turning point" after virtually continuous annual increases during the 1990s, in Norway as elsewhere in Europe.

Økokrim's statistics distinguish between serious or criminal offences and "misdemeanours" in various legislative categories including fauna protection, fisheries, forestry, conservation of natural habitats and cultural monuments, and pollution. The fall in serious pollution offences is particularly striking - the number fell by over a quarter from 102 in 1998 to 76 last year. Serious offences in all categories totalled 156. The clear-up rate for all environmental offences rose slightly, from 54% to 56%.

Økokrim chief prosecutor Jørn Holme interprets the improvement as evidence that preventive and deterrent measures and, in particular, increased funding for monitoring and inspection, are beginning to work. "At the same time, I think more people are taking the environment seriously," he told Nationen newspaper. Last year, Økokrim estimated that environmental offences had risen by 150% between 1991 and 1998.

Follow Up:
Økokrim, tel: +47 22 86 54 00 and e-mail: okokrim@okokrim.no

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