Gangsters target back-to-school treats

August 28, 2017
Steve McGregor

Criminals who once used back-to-school treats to seek legitimacy in the eyes of the public have been backing away from staging these events because of the fear of detection.

According to Steve McGregor, head of the community safety and security branch of the Jamaica Constabulaary Force, there has been a reduction in the number of criminals hosting treats.

"We don't find that much happening like first time. You find that councillors, MPs, and churches and other civic groups outside of the established business entities, they are the ones putting on most of this in these times. First time it would be coming from that angle, but they are not pushing up their heads as it used to be," McGregor said.

Meanwhile, Head of the St Catherine North Police Division, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Ransford Harding, under whose command a treat was shut down on Jones Avenue on Saturday, said that criminals stage treats to boost rankings.

"It is painfully obvious. That is how the rankings of the gangs go up, when they host treats and they use it to disguise extortion. Whenever the gangsters go to sponsors, they say they are going to do a back-to-school treat, but when they go to the business people with letters and they get this money, that letter is always going back to them."

Harding told THE STAR that the reason why the Jones Avenue treat was shut down is because of criminal association.

"The treat is not the issue, enuh. It is who, and the persons who are hosting the treat. The lady who is hosting the treat for Jones Avenue is the sister of the gangster over here, who is known as Andre' Bryan. That goes without saying and she said that she was acting on behalf of her brother. We don't support criminals...", Harding told THE STAR.


Build their ranking


The policeman was clear on his stance and insisted that citizens can put the application in place.

"We don't interfere with treats. There is no ban on treats. You apply to the senior superintendent for permission to host the event. You must tell us the sponsors (and) if you're working with Corporate Jamaica it goes without saying. Bring the letter to say that these persons are hosting the back-to-school treat and what you intend to do. The gangsters use these things to build their rankings and we are not supporting any criminal organisation."

Meanwhile, McGregor said that if the police get credible information that criminals are behind the staging of treats, they will not be granting permits.

"The community safety and security teams that are in the division will verify for the commander if it is genuine, and who is putting it on. Invariably, they will get permission because if it is a treat, it is during the day, and it is not a dance, so it will be policed and we try to accommodate most of them as long as they are genuine. We will give them [the permit] even if it is a hotspot," he said.

"Those that aren't (legitimate) are not given permission and we will team up with the parish council to go against that," McGregor said.

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