September 11th, 2023:- The Praedial Larceny Squad (PLS) remains resolute in its mission to safeguard the agricultural sector, prosecute offenders and preserve the integrity of Trinidad and Tobago’s food security/food basket. The PLS’ current accomplishments/achievements, ongoing recruitment efforts, infrastructural improvements and collaborative approach with other law enforcement agencies are a testament to its unwavering dedication to combating praedial larceny.
From 2020-2022, investigations, raids and activities of the Unit resulted in a 42% conviction rate of offenders for various infractions of the law at the nation’s courts. This Unit continues to be a valuable entity in the law enforcement apparatus of this country.
To better address the needs of all stakeholders, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF) has initiated several strategies to bolster and strengthen the unit; some of these strategies include hiring additional staff, upgrading existing facilities, and acquiring and adopting new technology to further enhance effectiveness and efficiency in fulfilling its mission and mandate.
Earlier this year, the PLS conducted a rigorous recruitment exercise, receiving over 5,000 applications from individuals eager to contribute to the fight against praedial larceny. These applicants were thoroughly vetted, and 70 successful candidates are currently undergoing an intensive 12-week training facilitated by law enforcement experts at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). This additional hire would result in a 200% increase in manpower, thereby bolstering its operational capabilities and expanding its reach across the country. Concurrently, MALF is expected to acquire five new vehicles within the next month; this will improve patrol and response times.
Addressing recent claims regarding the closure of the PLS’ South Office, the Ministry would like to clarify that the officers attached to this Unit have been temporarily relocated in order to facilitate refurbishment works. This relocation is part of an ongoing effort to create a state-of-the-art facility that will enhance the Unit’s operational efficiency. Tenders have already been issued for the establishment of a permanent headquarters, ensuring a dedicated and fully equipped space for the Squad to operate.
MALF reassures the public that all tools and equipment utilised by the PLS are secured and safeguarded in strict accordance with best practices and the laws of Trinidad and Tobago; to suggest otherwise can only be described as reckless and malicious.
The PLS regularly deploys joint mobile patrols in various communities. Collaborating with partner agencies, including the TTPS, Municipal Police, Game Wardens, and the Estate Management & Business Development Co. Ltd. (EMBD), these patrols ensure a visible presence and active monitoring of agricultural areas. The joint patrols serve as a proactive measure to deter potential criminals, respond swiftly to reported incidents, and gather valuable intelligence to support investigations.
The Squad also regularly meets with the farming community to foster open dialogue, address concerns, and offer guidance. These meetings serve as valuable platforms where farmers can voice their challenges and receive expert advice on best practices for protecting their properties. The PLS also utilises modern communication tools to facilitate real-time information sharing, quick responses to queries, and the dissemination of essential alerts or updates related to praedial larceny. These digital platforms encourage ongoing dialogue and collaboration, strengthening community bonds and promoting a sense of shared responsibility in combating agricultural theft.