Sian Berry has pledged to set up a habitat crime unit to protect London’s wild spaces if she is elected mayor of London in May.
Berry said: “We are in a climate and ecological emergency. We need a unit that specialises in crimes relating to pollution, harms to habitat and damage to animals. I think that’s really important to have, and it is very difficult to get individual officers to appreciate the problem.”
London has a specialist wildlife crime unit, which investigates the illegal trade of wild animals and their products. The proposed habitat crime unit would investigate harms against natural environments, including deliberate pollution and fly-tipping. Currently these incidents are dealt with by local councils.
From 2019 to 2020, London saw more fly-tipping than any other region in England, according to official data.
“Illegal fly-tipping is causing an awful lot of harm,” Berry said. “It not only causes physical harm to the environment where it is dumped, but it can also leave a toxic legacy for wildlife.”
Ms Berry said resourcing for the unit would come from police unit restructuring. “It wouldn’t be any extra cost,” she said. “Essentially, my whole policing plan is about rebalancing priorities.”