J6: Waste Crime

Interim Interim

Short description

This indicator tracks changes in the scale of key aspects of waste crime. Waste crime is a broad term encompassing fly-tipping, illegal waste sites, illegal waste exports, the misdescription of waste and illegal waste dumping, among other illegal waste-related activities. If not handled properly, waste can cause serious pollution of the environment – air, land and water, which can also be harmful to health. It further reduces the availability of resources from waste. Current data reported include illegal waste sites and fly-tipping. The underpinning data can be used to establish the level of criminal activity for some aspects of waste crime and geographic distribution. Options for further development will be considered, including the impacts and behavioural aspects of waste crime, the amount and types of potential resources lost through waste crime, and to reflect the need for targeting and effective enforcement to deliver reductions in the level of criminal activities.

This indicator is not available for reporting in 2021 in a finalised form. An interim indicator is presented here that shows the number of: (a) illegal waste sites and (b) fly-tipping incidents in England. Some data on illegal waste sites and fly-tipping are already published, but further work is required to develop the final indicator.


Concerted sampling efforts from the Environment Agency to identify and investigate illegal waste sites resulted in a peak number being observed in 2011/12. In subsequent years, activity focused on interventions to disrupt and deal with offenders and close down illegal waste sites.

Trend description

a) Illegal waste sites

The total number of illegal waste sites in England fell from a peak of 1,011 active sites in the financial year 2011/12 to 556 active sites in 2013/14. Since then, the number has increased gradually, reaching 685 sites in 2018/19, before falling again to 544 sites in 2019/20. Within this total, the number of active high-risk illegal waste sites fell by 32.6% from a peak of 353 sites in 2012/13 to 238 sites in 2019/20.

b) Fly-tipping incidents

The total number of fly-tipping incidents reported in England fell from 1.28 million incidents in the financial year 2007/08 to 715,000 incidents in 2012/13. Since these initial reductions, the number of incidents reported under the old methodology increased to over 1 million (1.07 million) between 2012/13 and 2018/19. The total number of fly-tipping incidents reported in 2018/19 under the new methodology was 957,000, 10.8% (115,000 incidents) lower than the total reported under the old methodology. In 2019/20, this total increased by 1.9% to 975,000 incidents relative to 2018/19.


Choose categories from the dropdowns below to see different breakdowns of the data. Some will not be available until a higher level is chosen.

This table provides metadata for the interim or final indicator presented above.

Indicator name

Waste Crime

Indicator reference


Outcome Indicator Framework theme

Resource Use and Waste

Headline indicator status

Resource efficiency and waste

Relevant goal(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Minimising waste
Relevant target(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Seeking to eliminate waste crime and illegal waste sites over the lifetime of this Plan, prioritising those of highest risk. Delivering a substantial reduction in litter and littering behaviour
Position in the natural capital framework
  • Pressure on natural capital assets
Related reporting commitments
  • None
Geographic scope

England and at individual site or facility level.

Status of indicator development


Date last updated

11 June 2021