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Police officers to have spit and bite guards from today

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FROM today (May 18) front-line police officers across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys will be equipped with spit and bite guards.

Spit and bite guards, made from a loose-fitting, lightweight mesh fabric, are placed over a person’s head to help minimise the risks of diseases and injuries associated with spitting and biting.

This means if someone spits or bites, or threatens to spit or bite, officers have a new piece of equipment to protect themselves and others.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Both spitting and biting are a particularly unpleasant form of assault and should not be considered by anyone to be an acceptable part of the job. Figures show there were 77 spit and bite incidents against Dyfed-Powys Police officers and staff in 2017 alone – more than six per month, on average.

“Assaults by spitting and biting can have long-term and distressing implications for officers, who sometimes have to take medication for many weeks afterwards to prevent infection.

“Use of force tactics, such as spit and bite guards, are there to protect not only the public but also for the safety of our officers, who face dangerous situations every day.

“It is imperative that we employ proportionate and appropriate tactics in each situation we face in order to achieve our number one objective, protecting the public.

“Our officers go through rigorous and continued training on tactics which are considered by the Home Office as a use of force. Officers are highly trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when necessary.

“The Chief Officer team has listened to concerns raised by officers as well as taking on board recent recommendations from the National Police Chief’s Council and have taken the decision that spit guards will be rolled out to all front line officers across the force, in line with 25 other police forces nationally.”

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, said: “Dyfed-Powys Police officers do their utmost to deliver invaluable services to the public, day in day out, no matter the circumstances. It is not right that they are subject to abuse whilst performing their duties, and it is our duty to protect those who strive to keep us safe and free from harm.

“In March 2018 I wrote to Members of Parliament to encourage them to support the passage on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill through the House of Commons. It is an important initiative which seeks to underline the importance of protecting emergency workers from assaults such as spitting and biting, and is a significant step in highlighting our mutual stance on this matter. It is of utmost importance that we take action to protect our police officers.”

College of Policing said: “Spit guards are for the protection of the arresting officer, other emergency service personnel and the public.

“It is recognised that the need to use spit guards or handcuffs during the restraint of an individual may cause distress to them and those who witness the arrest.

“However, as well as serving as protective equipment for the officer, it is also recognised that, by eliminating the risk of being spat on, bitten or the transmission of communicable diseases, the need for physical restraint may be reduced.

“As such, the risk of serious physical injury to the individual being arrested, is also reduced.

“The College has recently led a national review of the Personal Safety Training given to officers, which includes a section on spit guards and the medical implications of their use.

“As with all use of force, it will be for the arresting officer to justify their actions in each individual circumstance. The availability and use of equipment such as spit guards remain a local decision for each chief constable.”

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First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed

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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.

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Council unveils ambitious housing plan

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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.

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Llanelli: Notice of Motion follows school transport concerns

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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.”

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