Arthur Troop Scholarship Awardee Peggy Lefevre attends a valuable Environmental Crimes Seminar at Gimborn

15 Oct 2019

946 ats1In 2018 I was lucky enough to be awarded the Arthur Troop Scholarship for 2019. I chose to attend one of the renowned courses at Gimborn castle.

I selected the course ‘Environmental Crimes – Illegal profits and cross border crimes. Case studies for best practice’. It looks somewhat left-field and I felt as though I approached it as a pioneer would, as New Zealand does not have a single environmental protection agency tasked with enforcing crimes against the environment. I figured I would learn a great deal about the why’s and how’s of investigating such crimes, and was not disappointed.

The course participants were an eclectic lot, with a majority of Finnish (who sponsored and organised this seminar), Irish, Swedish, German, Brazilian, Sri Lankan and French. Many agencies were represented: Police, Prosecutor Office, Customs, Interpol and local environment protection agencies and councils. It was a great opportunity to compare policing styles, and to discuss our respective challenges and cultures.

Lectures covered a wide range of topics: case studies from well-known illegal dumping operations in Finland were presented in-depth by the very people who investigated and prosecuted these cases, along with representatives from environment protection agencies. An unusual talk highlighted the link between organised crime groups and environmental crimes. As it turns out, the mafia is unwittingly paid by governments to dispose of refuse, dumps it randomly, causing huge health and environmental crises. The very same groups are paid a second time to clean up their illegal dumping.

978 ats3A presentation at the new Düsseldorf station gave a unique insight into the types and causes of environmental crimes, major crime routes and prosecution from the German perspective.

Additional lectures identified environmental crime and wildlife crime case studies from the UK. The highlight was a lecture on using money laundering investigations to assist with the prosecution of, and recovery of proceeds from environmental crimes/asset recovery from organised environmental crimes. Finally, an Interpol talk detailed the global crime routes, types of crime, and also available international resources to address it.

Most of the lessons learned in this seminar are valuable on a daily basis. They created a large shift in perception about daily destructive habits. From a law enforcement perspective, they can be applied to current efforts to target organised crime and money laundering in New Zealand.

The castle setting and area of Gimborn are ideal for learning. There is something to be said about being inspired and awed by art and beauty. There is also something to be said about joining team mates at the heart of the castle, seconding as its all-round social centre…

The nearby hills and manicured forest paths also allow time to ponder the day’s learning, and reflect on larger, existential questions elicited by the contents and topics of this course.

Where to from here? I firmly intend to return to Gimborn and take other courses, probably every second year.

The scholarship was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I am deeply grateful for: without it I would never had had the courage or ambition to travel across the world to take such a course, and move so far out of my comfort zone.

Peggy Lefevre, Arthur Troop Scholarship Awardee 2019 from New Zealand