DYFED-POWYS POLICE is urging victims of sextortion and online blackmail to feel empowered to come forward and report incidents without feeling embarrassed.
The force has recorded seven reports of blackmail over the past three weeks, with victims being threatened that intimate photos or videos will be shared online unless they pay in cash or Bitcoin.
In some of these cases, victims have been contacted by strangers on social media and have been asked to share intimate photos or videos of themselves. They have then received threats that these images will be posted on social media unless they pay a certain amount of money to the blackmailer.
One victim reported being asked to pay £6,000 after initially being contacted through Instagram.
In other instances, victims have received emails from unknown people who claim to have sexual photos or videos of them. They threatened to share these with friends and family unless they are paid.
In light of recent reports, officers from Dyfed-Powys Police’s Digital Communications and Cyber Crime Unit have offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.
Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle said: “The first thing we would urge is don’t panic, and don’t respond to blackmail threats. Report it to police immediately.
“Don’t communicate with the blackmailer further, but take screenshots of any chat history as evidence. Please also take a note of their user IDs, money transfer control numbers and any photos or video that were sent.
“If any photos or videos appear on a website or social media account, report these to the site as soon as you can. Ask for the images to be removed and for the perpetrator to be blocked.
“What is really important is for victims to feel empowered to report sextortion and blackmail without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. You are not alone, and it is very likely that other people will have been targeted by these criminals.
“Your call will be treated sensitively, and by reporting incidents you could help prevent other people from becoming victims.”
To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.
First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed
THE FIRST two cases of coronavirus have been found in Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government announced today.
The two patients in the Carmarthenshire local authority area had recently returned together from northern Italy.
It comes as the Hywel Dda Health Board which serves the area opened two centres to test for coronavirus, one in Cardigan and one in Carmarthen.
The health board announced it had opened the testing centres to “help protect the health of our communities”, while also saying that centres could be opened in other areas across the health board.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a total of nine patients in Wales had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19) today, bringing the total to 15.
Council unveils ambitious housing plan
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has unveiled major plans to build more council homes and further improve its existing housing stock, including an ambition to move towards ‘carbon neutral homes’.
Executive Board approved an impressive Carmarthenshire Homes Standard (CHS+) business plan this week (February 24, 2020) in a commitment to build on a £286million programme it has already delivered to bring council homes in the county above the Welsh standard for social housing.
Pending Full Council approval in March, the council has outlined its intentions to commit £49million to continue the CHS+ programme whilst developing a new standard to further improve the energy efficiency of their homes, aiming to cut and off-set carbon emissions to ensure homes are warm, cheap to run, and easily adapted to cater for people’s changing needs.
As part of this vision, the council is planning to improve the fabric of houses so that they become more energy efficient. It will also harness off-grid sustainable energy solutions, such as wind and water, and has committed to planting 1,000 trees to off-set carbon emissions.
The council has also made a new commitment to invest £52million building more homes over the next three years as it works towards returning its housing stock to levels last seen in the 1990s.
The new programme will link to the council’s wider strategic regeneration initiatives, including developments in the Tyisha area of Llanelli, town centres and key rural towns.
The administration’s previous promise to deliver 1,000 more affordable homes is just 15 homes short of the target it set itself for 2021, including the completion of its first major new-build development since the 1970s in Pembrey, and the phase-one completion of a second development in Bynea.
Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said the investment would not only improve living conditions for existing tenants and provide more quality affordable homes for local people, but will also contribute to providing employment and training opportunities in the local construction industry.
“The plan is very ambitious – we are building new homes and working with tenants and key partners to ensure Carmarthenshire is at the forefront of the decarbonisation agenda,” she said. “Carmarthenshire is one of three authorities working with Welsh Government to look at measures to decarbonise our homes, and this work will start in the next few months.
“The fact that we have been able to invest in our homes, we’ve been able to build suitable homes and adapt homes for people and their families is very impressive – there’s more to do, but we are ready to take the challenge. It’s a very exciting time.”
Delivery of the council’s ambitions depends on an average rent increase of 2.7 per cent, working out at roughly £87 a week for a two-bedroom home – the second lowest rent level for social housing in Wales and significantly lower than private rented accommodation.
The council will also seek £6.1million from the Welsh Government’s major repairs allowance fund.
Llanelli: Notice of Motion follows school transport concerns
A NOTICE OF MOTION will be discussed at Llanelli Town Council on Wednesday (Mar 4) following the concern of many parents over the loss of school transport for their children.
The motion will be proposed by Shahana Najmi, Town Council Leader and Councillor for the Lliedi Ward and seconded by Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward.
The motion reads as follows: “Recent changes to UK legislation have led to the cancellation of many paid-for school transport with the consequence that many Llanelli school children are now expected to walk many miles often along unsuitable routes to get to School.
“This has only highlighted the need for change to how school transport is delivered. We believe that all children whether they pay or not should be able to access safe and effective school transport to enable them to get to and from school to a point safe and a reasonable distance from their home.
“We therefore write to the Ministers for Transport and Education at the Welsh Government to ask them to support a new School Transport Policy here in Wales that complies with UK legislation and ensure that children here in Llanelli are not expected to walk miles to school in often adverse weather conditions and often on unsafe and unsuitable walking routes.
“We also write to Carmarthenshire County Council to ask them to do all in their power to ensure that children in Carmarthenshire have access to appropriate school transport and consider all options available to them to ensure acceptable provision.”