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Rural Constables officially commissioned within Police Force

Rural Constables officially commissioned within Police Force

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Persons bent on stealing agricultural produce and or livestock will now have to deal with the long arm of the law.{{more}}

On Monday, June 28, 20 rural constables were officially commissioned as part of a new division within the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.

The commissioning marked the final stage in a process which began with the enactment of the Agricultural produce and Livestock (Prevention of theft) Act in 2007.

The full implementation of the Act could not be fully effected as there were a number of important support systems to be put in place, some of which included the registration of farmers, vendors and exporters, the issuing of receipt books, an identification system for livestock, and finally, the recruitment of qualified persons to be trained as rural constables.

“From since 2006 up until now, it has been a winding road as we had to put strategies in place, some of which are still ongoing,” Rueben Robertson, Chief Agricultural Officer, said.

The process seeks to revolutionize the manner in which agricultural business is conducted, beginning with the registration of all farmers and the issuance of identification cards, to the issuance of receipts for all transactions involving agricultural produce or livestock in excess of $50 or 11 pounds; to the hours during which buying and selling of agricultural produced must be conducted.

“In the past, we have seen buyers doing business along the road side, although they know the sellers are not the legitimate producers,” Montgomery Daniel, Minister of Agriculture, said.

“We cannot continue to do business this way if we want agriculture to continue to thrive. Today ends these archaic days and brings a more organized, modern way of doing business,” he continued.

It is also anticipated that with the reintroduction of rural constables, the work of reducing incidents of praedial theft should be made easier.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves spoke about the training of the officers, saying that the men and women have been trained specifically to deal with the issue.

He welcomed the new rural constables, saying that this aspect of the Police Force was lacking. He also said in his opinion the regular police did not have as part of their training the know how to deal with this aspect of theft.

The Prime Minister said it is hoped that the rural constables would be more effective than regular police officers as they will be better acquainted with persons in the varying communities in which they are based.

“This does not mean that the police will not arrest. It means that the rural constables will assist because they can’t do it alone,” Gonsalves cautioned.

Rather, it means that there will be a collaborative effort between the rural constables and members of the force to deal with potential offenders, the prime minister said.

The twenty constables will be deployed throughout rural communities: 4 in the Marriaqua Valley, 2 in the Georgetown district, 2 in Colonaire, 2 in Park Hill and South Union, 3 in Vermont, 2 in Chateaubelair, 2 Sandy Bay and 2 in Biabou.

More rural constables will eventually be deployed over a period of time, the Prime Minister said.

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