“Yes, I have been pleased with some of the success that we have been making but I don’t think we have reached that satisfied level.”
That was the response from Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney when asked about the percentage of reported crimes that are solved in Antigua and Barbuda.
The top cop explained that while he is pleased with officers’ work over the years, the solvability rates are still not satisfactory, telling Observer last week that that the number of solved crimes fell below 50 percent in 2022.
“Sometimes, we are within 30-40 percent of crimes reported in certain areas. In the cases of wounding, you might have a high solvability rate because there is an interaction between two persons, so you know who committed the wounding.
“In some of the rape cases that we have been having, those reports you would notice it’s committed by a known person, so that is very easy to solve,” Rodney explained.
And while in some instances rape cases have been fairly simple to crack, Rodney revealed that conviction rates for sexual offences on a whole are worryingly low.
He explained that although individuals make the reports and an investigation is carried out and the case is before the court, complainants often change their minds and decide not to pursue the matter.
“We have many incidents like that where some persons actually write to the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] and ask for the matter to be withdrawn. Then they would have to ask them to come to the court and they would go before the judge and inform the judge they do not wish to proceed,” Rodney said.
This concern was the same for acquisition crimes like praedial larceny which, according to Rodney, are among the most difficult to resolve.
“This is where we suffer because there is very little evidence. No one saw them, the items are not recovered because some of the items are perishable.
“Let’s take the farmers when you have cases of praedial larceny … because the items are perishable sometimes by the time the farmer is making the report that item has been disposed of already, so you are not going to get that physical evidence where you can present the pumpkin, banana or the items from the farm,” Rodney said.
It is because of those limitations that the top cop is reiterating his call for farmers to assist the police as much as they can.
“One of the things I always say to the farmers is that they have to continue to — just as the police is making periodical checks at their farms — they have to assist us by doing that. We know that farming is a difficult job, having to wake up so early and work; you’re tired and just to return to patrol takes a lot.
“The police is willing to assist by doing those patrols but they would be in a better position because if I pass by the farm and I see a bunch of bananas and it’s gone after, it may not mean anything to me but the farmer would know.
“It’s something that we have to continue to assist them with and some locations are difficult to add some additional security features but if you can, please do,” Rodney concluded.
In recent years, there has been a spike in cases of praedial larceny among farmers who, on numerous occasions, have not only called on law enforcement but the government as well for assistance as they have lost thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and suffered damage to their farms.
Late last year, the Layer Farmers’ Association revealed that their farmers had been set back by thefts of chickens and feed estimated to be worth as much as EC$30,000-$40,000.
Less than half criminal offences are solved because the police don’t want to solve them. Some of them offences are committed by them same officers and they cover up for each other. Commissioner Rodney needs to talk the damn truth.