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Story Highlights

  • Persons involved in the theft of agricultural produce could soon face stiff penalties under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
  • The Proceeds of Crime Act deals specifically with organised crime and provides for the seizure of the assets of persons found to have accumulated wealth through criminal means.
  • Praedial larceny is estimated to cost Jamaican farmers up to $6 billion annually.

Persons involved in the theft of agricultural produce could soon face stiff penalties under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, in his Budget Debate presentation in May, said that an amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act, to include praedial larceny, is among legislative measures to be given priority this fiscal year.

Head of the Community Safety and Security Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Gary Welsh, in welcoming the move, says it will enable praedial larceny to be treated as organised crime.

“We classify it under simple larceny, but it is no longer petty. It is serious organised crime and it will attract stiff penalties. The worst crime that anyone could get involved in is called organised crime; it is crime for profit where people perpetrate crime with the sole intent of making a business,” he said.

The Proceeds of Crime Act deals specifically with organised crime and provides for the seizure of the assets of persons found to have accumulated wealth through criminal means. It seeks to ensure that persons engaged in criminal activities do not profit from their ill-gotten gains.

ACP Welsh, who was speaking at the launch of three farm watches in Portland recently, informed farmers that compensation for farmers, who have experienced a loss, is also being considered.

“When you suffer a loss, part of the process must contemplate how you are reimbursed for your investment,” he noted.

There are proposed amendments to the Agricultural Produce and the Praedial Larceny (Prevention) Acts to include an increase of fines from $250,000 to $3 million;  expansion of the definition for praedial larceny; simplifying the procedures for registering and licensing all handlers of agricultural produce, among other things.

Praedial larceny is estimated to cost Jamaican farmers up to $6 billion annually.