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Enforcing the Litter Abatement Act

Monday, July 19 – Over 25 volunteers from Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada have completed a one-day Training Workshop for Litter Wardens that was facilitated by the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Solid Waste Department, at the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports’ conference room in Road Town last week.

Delivering opening remarks at the July 15 training, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Social Development Honourable Dancia Penn, OBE, QC reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to deterring litterers. The Minister also highlighted the important role that the Litter Warden volunteers would be called upon to play.

Honourable Penn said legislation can be meaningless without enforcement in emphasising the important role that the Litter Wardens would be required to play. Members of the House of Assembly unanimously supported the Litter Abatement (Amendment) Act, which was passed last year.

The Minister reminded the volunteers to exercise good judgement in the performance of the duties as Litter Wardens and to be good representatives of their communities and the Government. “This training will prepare you to render an invaluable service to the Territory. Your mastery of the knowledge and information would help to inspire public confidence in your abilities and make your role easier,” she said.

Topics included the responsibilities of a Litter Warden, enforcement of the Litter Abatement (Amendment) Act, preparing a case file, starting summary proceedings, and providing evidence.

The training workshop was facilitated by personnel from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, and the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

In his presentation, Sergeant Selwyn Rock of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, briefed participants on how to manage the various situations that they would encounter in their roles as litter wardens and highlighted the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the community as they sought to enforce the Litter Abatement (Amendment) Act.

On August 11, 2009 members of the House of Assembly voted unanimously in support of amendments to the Litter (Abatement) Act. It makes provisions for the appointment of officers employed by the Solid Waste Department and members of the Virgin Islands Auxiliary Force to be appointed as ex officio litter wardens, along with Environmental Health Officers and Police Officers at all ranks.

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The prosecutorial scope for local authorities was also extended in cases where litterers are delinquent in paying any related fines. Section 4 of the Act provides for offenders who do not make related payments within 21 days to appear before a local Magistrate.

Under the amended Act, persons found guilty of discharging litter from a moving vehicle, transporting waste so that it becomes litter, littering public or private premises, or failing to comply with a litter removal notice will be subjected to a fine of $500 or three months imprisonment.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development aspires to provide leadership that promotes health, social wellbeing, and a safe and clean environment as positive resources for living and sustainable development of the Virgin Islands.

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