The relative advantages of criminal versus administrative environmental enforcement actions in Israel

Alon Tal*, Yaara Aharon, Hadar Yuhas-Peled

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Most environmental enforcement programs have separate criminal and administrative procedures for addressing violations. Pitting "criminal" versus "administrative" enforcement as mutually exclusive alternatives constitutes a "false dilemma". Clearly, the government response should be influenced by the severity of pollution and the specific circumstances of the polluter. Yet, policy makers seeking to improve environmental compliance need to have a clearer picture about the merits of each approach and their relative effectiveness. This research empirically assesses the effectiveness of criminal versus administrative enforcement activities in Israel. After considering the philosophical implications associated with each regulatory approach, the results of a year-long study are presented. A series of performance indicators are utilized, with particular weight on compliance status in the field, to assess the condition of environmental violations several years subsequent to completion of enforcement activities. The state of 100 violations of air, water and hazardous materials laws that had been addressed through the criminal process were matched with results of comparable violations, against which administrative actions were taken. Results suggest that while criminal enforcement is a longer process, compliance following these actions was significantly greater than in administrative enforcement cases. The findings also underline the significance of a systematic follow-up system for tracking violations after enforcement actions are complete. Finally, the study confirms the benefits of targeted assistance to improve compliance among violators of environmental standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-821
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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