Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, has emphasised that persons must report incidents of praedial larceny, if the scourge is to be eliminated.
“I want to encourage more farmers and other stakeholders in agriculture to come forward and make reports to the police. It is the only way we can fight back against the criminals,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at a virtual town hall meeting on June 10. The event, hosted by the Praedial Larceny Prevention Coordination Unit, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, was aimed at bringing together all stakeholder groups to discuss anti-praedial larceny interventions.
Mr. Hutchinson said data suggest that 45 per cent of praedial larceny cases go unreported, and urged that persons report these incidents.
“Farmers’ first course of action following the theft of their produce or livestock is to report it to the police. Last year, as part of ongoing sensitisation of at least 300 farmers across the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Trelawny, St. Catherine and St. Thomas, the importance of coming forward to report these crimes was emphasised,” he noted.
Turning to the Ministry’s sensitisation sessions, aimed at building the capacity of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to effectively respond to praedial larceny, he said the Ministry will continue to facilitate additional training of members of the JCF in the new financial year.
In the 2019/2020 financial year, the Ministry conducted six training sessions with more than 200 police officers. The number included 22 senior officers in charge of operations across all 19 police divisions. Among them were two Assistant Commissioners, 14 Deputy Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents.
Also included were 179 rank and file members from four police divisions in St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine North, Clarendon and Trelawny, which are the parishes with the highest reported incidence of praedial larceny.
The officers were trained in how to effectively investigate cases of praedial larceny and prepare case files.
Mr. Hutchinson commended the JCF for increased focus on its anti-praedial larceny interventions to reduce losses in the sector.
“Let me take this opportunity to express sincere gratitude to the JCF for placing increased focus on praedial larceny in the various police divisions,” the Minister said, pointing out that increased support by the JCF in this area will assist in curtailing theft of agricultural produce.
For his part, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the JCF’s Strategic Operations portfolio, Clifford Blake, described praedial larceny as a form of organised crime, and reiterated the need for increased investigative capabilities in this area.
“We need to make sure our farmers have the confidence that they can report the incidents, in order for us to [effectively tackle this issue].
That is the only way we are going to be able to respond to the needs of our farmers. We need to elevate our investigative capabilities,” he emphasised.