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Six child sex offences recorded on average every day in Wales

Tamsin Mathias

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Child Abuse WalesTHE NUMBER of child sex offences reported to police across Wales rose to 2,328 last year: An average of more than six a day.

The figures, obtained by NSPCC Cymru/Wales, show a 13 per cent rise on 2014/15, when 2,069 sexual offences against children were recorded by Wales’s four police forces.

Dyfed Powys Police saw the most significant increase, from 328 to 679 in 15/16; a 107 per cent rise.

A total of 643 victims in Wales were aged ten or under. At least 185 victims were four and under, some of whom would be too young to even attend primary school.

The other forces recorded the following figures, which were released to NSPCC Cymru / Wales under the Freedom of Information Act:

  • North Wales
    398 (14/15) 584 (15/16)
  • South Wales
    637 (14/15) 753 (15/16)
  • Gwent
    706 (14/15) 311 (15/16)

Across the UK, the figure rose to a record 55,507 last year, which an average of 152 a day or one child sex offence every ten minutes.

Police recorded crimes against children that included rape, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation.

The NSPCC believes a number of reasons could explain the increase across Wales and the rest of the UK, including police forces improving recording methods; survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases, and online grooming becoming a major problem with predators reaching multiple children.

The total number of sex offences committed is unknown, as more children may not have come forward because they are frightened, embarrassed, or do not realise that they have been abused.

Currently, police and social services mostly react when child sexual abuse is reported. NSPCC believes there needs to be a concerted shift towards early intervention and preventing child sexual abuse before children are exposed to harm.

NSPCC Cymru is calling on the Welsh Government to lead on the development of a comprehensive child sexual abuse action plan.

This is why the children’s charity, as well as Stop it Now! Wales and The Survivors Trust, are working in partnership on a cross party group on child sexual abuse in the National Assembly for Wales.

The NSPCC’s “Speak Out. Stay Safe” programme visits primary schools across the UK to help children learn the signs of abuse and what to do if they have been the victim of such abuse.

The programme, which was launched in Wales in 2011, has already reached more than 80,000 children.
NSPCC also wants every child who is sexually abused to receive a therapeutic service to enable them to recover from the experience.

It is also essential that children receive a therapeutic service to help them recover. The charity’s ‘Letting The Future In’ service provides therapy for children who have been sexually abused and the charity is working with other organisations to increase the amount of therapeutic support available for children in Wales.

NSPCC also provides the ‘Protect and Respect’ programme which helps older children and young people who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited.

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, said: “Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and without help have lifelong impacts. Victims need help to speak out and support to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.

“NSPCC is calling on the Welsh Government to lead on the development of a comprehensive child sexual abuse action plan. This action plan could ensure that parents and professionals know what to do to prevent child sexual abuse as well as ensuring children receive the help they need to recover.

“Given the increasing prevalence of online offending we need to ensure children and young people are protected online. It is therefore crucial that a comprehensive online safety action plan is also developed, supported by a digital advisory group.”

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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