This is well known to those who care about our environment, but it has until recently rarely appeared in public. It refers to actions that degrade our surroundings, such as spraying graffiti, leaving litter, dumping cars, or plastering walls with posters. A stimulus for its wider use in the UK was the Environmental Protection Act of early 2004, which gave councils the power to fine businesses that cause environmental damage. Many local councils combine the stick of legal action with wardening schemes that aim to clear rubbish quickly so it doesn’t become an eyesore and to persuade people to look after their neighbourhoods. The idea is to stop places looking run-down and neglected and hence unsafe. The word is also used, though less often, for much more serious pollution such as major oil spills and illegal dumping of asbestos and chemical waste.
Lewisham is one borough that involves local people in its fight against what it calls “envirocrime”. It has a network of street leaders: residents around the borough who report problems such as litter, graffiti, abandoned cars and fly-tipping to the council.
London Evening Standard, 8 Oct. 2003
A new “envirocrime” unit, set up with money from the council budget but with extra funds coming from the police through central government initiatives, has helped provide some “joined-up thinking”.
the Guardian, 11 Oct. 2004
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