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Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour

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POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.

According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.

These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.

HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.

Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.

Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.

“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.

“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.

“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”

These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.

The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.

That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.

Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”

Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.

“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”

He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”

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Search for Susan Smith continues

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THE search for missing Susan Smith is now in it’s third day. She was last seen on Saturday (Feb 27), walking in the Kidwelly area.

Speaking to The Herald, a police spokesperson said: “We are continuing to search for Susan Smith who has been reported missing.”

“The search is continuing today with specialist police officers making house to house enquiries in the Kidwelly, St Ishamels, Ferryside and surrounding areas.

Sergeant Fiona Phillips said: “It is important that we build a picture of Susan’s movements after she was last seen on Saturday and I would appeal to anyone who believes they may have seen her to contact police.”

Susan was last seen 1.30pm Saturday, February 27 2021, walking in the Carmarthen Bay Holiday Village, Kidwelly area. She is known to walk along the beach to St Ishmaels and Ferryside.

She is described as approximately 5ft2 inches tall, petite with shoulder length blonde hair and believed to be wearing black jeans, a black fleece type jacket and navy and grey walking boots.

Any who has seen Susan or anyone who may have information that could help the search is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police, quoting reference 285 of Saturday 27th February.

Police can be contacted either online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908

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Isla to read 20 books in 20 days for lifesaving charity

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A Bancyfelin bookworm has so-far raised over £300 for the Wales Air Ambulance in her first-ever fundraiser for charity.

Six-year-old Isla Wilson is taking part in the Charity’s My20 challenge and has chosen to read 20 books in 20 days during March.

The Wales Air Ambulance celebrates its 20th anniversary on March 1 and to acknowledge the milestone, the Charity has created a new fundraising event called My20. My20 allows the participant to set themselves a challenge, task or activity that relates to the number ’20’ which they will complete during March.

The Ysgol Bancyfelin pupil loves reading books to her younger sister, Ailish, 4 and has chosen a range of books to read in Welsh and English.

Some of the books that Isla has chosen to read include – The Elves and the Shoemaker, Peter Rabbit, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Chicken Lickin’ and Rapunzel.

Isla set herself the target of raising £50 and has already smashed that figure by raising £330 for the lifesaving Charity – even before her fundraiser has started.

Isla has received a lot of support from her friends, family and her school. The little bookworm has also been reading books virtually to family and friends in preparation.

Speaking about why she is raising money for the charity’s 24/7 service, Isla said: “I want to help keep the air ambulance awake all night. They help lots of people.”

Her dad, Tom Wilson, said: “We’re proud of Isla for wanting to raise money for the air ambulance. Isla and her sister have always enjoyed seeing the air ambulance in the air, but it wasn’t until recently that she understood the significance of the work the medics do. We’re are shocked she has raised over £300 already, especially as it’s her first fundraiser. We’re looking forward to listening to her reading throughout the challenge.”

Katie Macro, the Charity’s South West Wales Community Fundraiser, said: “It’s wonderful how Isla, at such a young age, understands the important work of the Wales Air Ambulance. It’s clear that she wants to take part in My20 because it helps those in need, showing her compassion and thought for others. We hope that people recognise this and donate to her fundraiser, which many already have.

“Thank you so much for supporting us, Isla. Every penny you raise will help people who need us. That makes you a lifesaver.”

You can show your support to Isla by sponsoring her via her Just Giving page – Isla’s Fy20 / My20 www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lisa-lewis51

For more information on the #MY20 challenge visit www.walesairambulance.com.

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Blocked rail plans a ‘kick in the teeth’

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POLITICIANS in Llanelli have vocalised their frustrations as plans for extra train services between west Wales and London have been ditched.

Grand Union Trains had been working on plans to run as many as seven daily returning rail services between Cardiff Central and Paddington from December 2021 and had been hoping to extend those services to both Llanelli and Carmarthen.

Those plans though, it seems, won’t be progressing any further as the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) have rejected the application. These rail plans have been rejected because of ORR concerns that it could have cost the UK Department of Transport millions of pounds.

An ORR spokesperson said: “After careful consideration we have decided not to approve Grand Union Trains’ application.

“At this time, and taking account of the pandemic’s impact on railway finances, we consider the passenger benefits would not outweigh the significant negative impact on public funds that this might have.”

Llanelli MS Lee Waters, Deputy Transport Minister in the Welsh Government, described the decision as “a real scandal”. 

Lee Waters said “A plan to get a direct rail service from places like Llanelli to London has been blocked because it’s feared the DfT may get a bill if it doesn’t go to plan.”

MP for Llanelli, Nia Griffith said: “This is a real kick in the teeth. 

“We in west Wales deserve to have as good connectivity as other parts of the country. 

“We need more direct trains because it is the long-time gap between trains and poor connections with on-going services that really puts people off using trains now.

“More frequent services and more direct trains would attract more passengers.”

Grand Union Trains will fight the decision, which they have said could jeopardise 135 new jobs, and described it as ‘poorly forecasted’. They are currently seeking legal advice.

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