ENVIRONMENT officers have launched an investigation after finding piles of dumped rubbish.

The officers found the heaps of dumped metal, bikes and electrical appliances when more than 200 police officers unleashed dawn raids at homes across Oxfordshire last week.

Police arrested five people: a 54-year-old woman, 53-year-old man, 33-year-old man, 27-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman, all from the Wantage area, on suspicion of modern slavery, money laundering and tax evasion.

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The raids were at homes in Woodhill Lane, East Challow, and Faringdon Road, Stanford in the Vale.

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A mound of rubble found during last week's raids. Picture: Environment Agency

Now The Environment Agency is looking into the legality of what was stored at the sites and where it might have come from.

Officers from the agency are sifting through a mountain of waste found in Stanford in the Vale gathering all sorts of information about where the waste came from before launching an investigation.

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First they will look for any clues, like if a motorbike was dumped at the site they might be able to find out where the owner lived before they got rid of it.

Then they will use their databases to gather information about previous investigations or reports into the same area.

Anybody who moves waste or stores waste needs to have a certain type of permit from the agency.

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A police officer sorts through bundles of cash found during last week's raids. Picture: Thames Valley Police

That means that if officers do spot check a site – as happened last week – they can usually work out if waste should be there.

However, determining whether it is a crime or not can take months.

Phil Davies, a senior operations manager with the Environment Agency, said: “We are determined to disrupt any illegal waste activity that blights communities.

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“Part of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime, the Environment Agency works with police and other bodies in the fight against serious and organised waste crime.

“The handling and dumping of illegal waste is estimated to cost the UK economy at least £600 million a year. We stopped illegal waste activity at nearly 1,000 sites in 2019. Suspicions about waste crime should be reported to us on 0800 807060, or to Crimestoppers.”

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Police officers sort through evidence at last week's raids. Picture: Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police did not say whether anybody had been charged with modern slavery, money laundering, and tax evasion.

To report any crime in an emergency call 999.

With information to help any investigation report a crime to police online at Thamesvalley.police.uk/report-a-crime or call the non-emergency number 101.