Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has urged members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Island Special Constable Force (ISCF) to give greater attention to eliminating the problem of praedial larceny.
“Praedical larceny suggests simple crimes, but the pain and hardship that it causes, and perhaps, the encouragement from limited enforcement that it offers to deviants, could lead to other major crimes,” the Minister argued.
He was addressing members of the police force during a senstisation seminar on praedial larceny held on December 13 at the Police Officers Club on Hope Road, Kingston.
Dr. Tufton commended the cops for their continued partnership with the Ministry in combating the problem, further noting that the prevention of praedial larceny will take a collaborated and organised effort from all stakeholders.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington (right), welcomes Chief Technical Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton (centre), to a sensitisation seminar on praedial larceny held on December 13 at the Police Officer’s Club on Hope Road, Kingston. Looking on is Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton.
“There needs to be a holistic approach. It’s not just about farmers, or my Ministry; it’s about a range of systems and processes that must be put in place,” he said. “Many of those (systems) are already in place, so what we need to do is to just to emphasise the problem and sensitise and ensure that we can work together to champion this cause going forward,” he added.
Minister Tufton also told the members that the implications of the losses often associated with praedial larceny are quite damaging not only to the sector, but to the lives of many, who depend on the industry for their survival. “It also adds to final prices that consumers pay for their respective goods. In effect therefore, praedial larceny contributes to the inefficiency of the farming cycle,” he pointed out.
He noted that theft could affect health, as often produce or livestock are stolen with no knowledge of the chemicals that might have been applied, which may make them dangerous for consumption at that point in time.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, said the JCF is committed to eliminating praedial larceny, noting that a prevention strategy has been incorporated into the JCF’s work programme, which is “moving along very well.”
He informed that several sensitisation meetings have been held with area officers, while there is sharing of information through the Ministry’s farmer database.
The Commissioner said that coming out of the seminar, it is hoped that knowledge and informed would be shared “in a practical way so that everybody understands the importance of the agricultural sector to national development and national prosperity. Therefore, you must also understand as police officers, the importance of your participation in preserving the sector and ensuring its viability.”
The sensitisation seminar for members of the police force and justice system is part of the five components under the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme. The four other elements of the programme are: employment of a Praedial Larceny Prevention Coordinator; a public awareness campaign; the strengthening of existing laws and the establishment of a traceability system. The function was attended by some 60 police personnel drawn from all geographic divisions of the JCF and ISCF.
Additionally, on Monday, the Agriculture Minister and the Commissioner viewed aspects of the Rural Agricultural Development Agency’s (RADA) Agricultural Business Information System (ABIS) Database, which is a shared system between the Ministry and the JCF. Under this new traceability system, authorised personnel will be able to do a search on the database for registered farmers, who have procured their Agricultural Produce Receipt (APR) book.
Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme Coordinator, Lt. Col. Paul Dunn, noted that the system will also allow police on patrol to make inquiries of persons found with agricultural produce or livestock through police control, where a search will be initiated based on an agricultural produce receipt or a registered farmer.
“This will tell them of the type of produce that is grown on the farm or livestock that is reared. It will also tell of the acreage under cultivation and other details of the farmer and his/her farm,” he said.
Lt. Col. Dunn said the system, in effect, is a critical tool which will assist the police in their investigations.
“The system, however, can only be successful if the farmers get registered with RADA and purchase their receipts books from the Jamaica Agricultural Society,” he said.
Lt. Col. Dunn further commended the St. Catherine North Police, in particular, the Linstead police for the recent establishment of a desk for the reporting of incidents of praedial larceny.
“Not only have they established this desk, but they have been having meetings with the farmers within the Linstead police area of operations. This is certainly going to go a far way in developing the relationship between the farming community and the police force,” he noted.