Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk (EKRE) has made a proposal to the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice to create possibilities to involve voluntary assistant inspectors for environmental monitoring.
Kokk noted that there are already thoughtful people, who notice violations from time to time.
"A good example is those who help protect fish stocks by helping the Environmental Inspectorate to catch predators during the autumn spawning season. By involving such conscientious citizens in law enforcement, we will gain the ability to detect violations and ensure public order," Kokk said.
The minister added that the rights and responsibilities will be similar to those of auxiliary police officers.
Head of the Environmental Inspectorate (Keskkonnainspektsioon) Olav Avarsalu said that the role of an assistant environmental protection inspector in Estonia would not be new. Assistant inspectors had assisted environmental inspectors until 2001, but this was abandoned following the passing of the Environmental Supervision Act.
Avarsalu said that at the time, the proper regulations of law enforcement were missing in this area, making the role and rights of the assistant environmental protection inspector unclear and not understandable to the public.
As the next step, alternatives will be considered, and interest groups will be asked about how to involve the assistant inspectors. Following this, a draft will be compiled.
Assistant inspectors are one of the subjects that Kokk, Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) and Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) discussed at the follow-up meeting of the declaration on the prevention of environmental crime signed in April.
In order to enhance the tracking of environmental crimes, the environment minister also proposed adding two environmental crimes to the section on environmental crimes in the Penal Code, namely activities without environmental permits, and international waste transport, in order to enable the right of surveillance to be applied.
"The listed crimes may involve a longer-term criminal scheme;[such] crimes are often organized, and the proceeds can be high. In some cases, surveillance is necessary to expose the criminal scheme and prevent the crime," Kokk commented.
Editor: Roberta Vaino