JIS News

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has embarked on sensitization programmes for the police, to improve the information base about the provisions of the law that govern the improper disposal of solid waste and litter.
According to Legal Officer and Company Secretary of the NSWMA, Kerry Ann Mason, who has conducted a number of the sensitization programmes, one of its main objectives is to make the policemen aware that “the Litter Act, with which they might have some familiarity, has been repealed.”
Speaking with JIS News, she explained that on many occasions since the passage of the National Solid Waste Management Act 2001, a large number of policemen “have been prosecuting under the Litter Act” and they have had their cases thrown out of court on the basis that the Act is no longer existent.
The Legal Officer said the sensitization programmes were seen as a way of enabling police officers to have a clearer understanding about updated legislation relating to solid waste and litter disposal and how best to pursue persons who breached the law.
Discussing the programmes, Miss Mason said: “We have decided to make the police officers first understand what solid waste is.”
“The thrust of the programme,” she continued, “is to let the officers know what the offences are [for those who violate the laws relating to solid waste]. But in letting them know that, we also try to make them also comprehend the implications of what littering does.”
Miss Mason said that in order to make the sessions more meaningful and effective, the sensitization programmes were not being held on a wide scale regional basis. Instead, she said, they were hosted at a particular police station or division, with senior officers in attendance so as to establish a more favourable rapport.
To date, the sessions that began in October of last year, have been hosted by police officers in Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine. Other sessions are scheduled for the remaining parishes during the course of the year.
The Legal Officer told JIS News she was pleased with the enthusiasm and responsiveness the police had demonstrated in the sessions, adding that since the sensitization programmes began, there had been a substantial increase in telephone calls made to the NSWMA’s offices from the police to query instances which might suggest breaches of the law.
She said that to assist the police in effectively carrying out their duties, “we have zonal monitors who were formerly public health inspectors [employed to the NSWMA’s regional offices]. We have trained the ones in Kingston in enforcement and they have also been trained in solid waste management.”
Providing background information of the revised National Solid Waste Management Act 2001, Miss Mason said beginning in 1996, “the Government of Jamaica realized that there was a need to have a comprehensive solid waste management programme for Jamaica.”
Recognising that the then existing Litter Act was not sufficient as it dealt primarily with penalties relating to littering, she said the Government secured funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and carried out a series of studies to broaden the scope of the legislation to deal with criminal offences.
“They got persons who had the technical and legal background to sit together and compile the Solid Waste Management Act,” Miss Mason explained, “to make it comprehensive to deal with proper management of solid waste, in terms of recycling, and also in terms of offences for varying degrees of littering from petty litter, where there is just a piece of paper on the ground, to wholesale illegal dumping.” She further noted that “they have also included in the Act a procedure to regularize the solid waste industry where licences are to eventually be issued to waste haulers and provisions are to be made as to how to finance disposal sites.”

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