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Fires cause £100k of damage to Afan Valley and Seven Sister Forests

Thomas Sinclair

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Five fires that set sections of the Afan Valley and Seven Sisters forests ablaze have caused over £100k worth of damage.

The fires have destroyed almost 140 hectares of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) managed forestry at Penhydd, Ynyscorrwg, Glyncorrwg, Abercregan and Seven Sisters, this includes 80,000 newly planted trees.

At a time when the country is on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, fire and rescue officers had to put themselves at risk to put the fires out.

Three of the five fires are being investigated as suspected arson by South Wales Police. The fire at Penhydd on Tuesday 31 March and the fires at Abercregan and Seven Sisters on Sunday 5 April.

The Ynyscorrwg fire took place on Wednesday 25 March and the Glyncorrwg fire on Tuesday 31 March.

NRW officers are working to establish the level of damage caused, including the impact on the environment.

James Roseblade, Senior Land Management Officer, of Natural Resources Wales, said:

“These fires have not only caused massive financial loss to NRW, but will have impacted on the environment, killing wildlife, polluting the air and water.

“At a time where we should all be observing the government rules around staying at home and social distancing, I urge people to think about the impact their firesetting could have on people’s lives and the environment.

“Consider what is essential during lockdown. Stay at home most importantly. But also, a garden bonfire is not essential and can easily get out of control, putting unnecessary pressure on emergency services.

“NRW is working with the fire and resuce service, police and other partners through Operation Dawns Glaw to prevent fires of this nature and I would urge the public to report any suspicious behaviour to police by calling 101.”

Richie Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“Deliberately setting fires is illegal and irresponsible. Operationally, wildfires often require multiple crews working hard together, sharing equipment and on difficult terrain. This is a concern when we are trying to operate distancing procedures as much as possible to protect those crews. We would like to appeal to you to help us and other essential services in preventing these incidents from occurring.”

Community Safety Chief Inspector Declan Cahill, of South Wales Police, said:

“Often fires like these are set by young people and I am requesting support from parents and guardians who should know exactly where their children are and what they are doing, especially during a time when everybody’s movements have been restricted.

“We will investigate reports of deliberate fire setting – anybody who is found to be responsible faces the prospect of being prosecuted. I’d urge children and parents to be mindful of how a criminal record can impact on somebody’s future. Ultimately, their actions could cause a loss of life, serious injury and significant damage to land, property and wildlife.”

Do you have information about who set these forest fires? Report information to South Wales Police by calling 101. To pass on information anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Stand up for slowing down speed campaign launched

Carli Newell

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INAPPROPRIATE speed contributes to around 11% of all injury collisions reported to the police, with 15% of collisions resulting in a serious injury and 24% of collisions resulting in fatalities.

Starting on the 26th July, the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) Speed Campaign will kick off across the UK, with GoSafe and the four Welsh Police Forces participating in both engaging with the public about the risks of speeding and enforcing the speed limits on the roads of Wales.

In 2019, 60,073 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued in Wales to drivers/riders for speeding.

Speeding is a major contributing factor to collisions on the roads of Wales. This includes both ‘excessive speed’, where the speed limit is exceeded, as well as driving or riding within the speed limit when this is too fast for the conditions at the time; for example, in poor weather, poor visibility or high pedestrian activity.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, we saw less traffic but higher speeds.  Now our restrictions are lifting, traffic volumes are up and as we are holidaying in the UK more, we are seeing more people speeding on the roads in Wales.  We want to change this, but can only do that with your help.

 Over the next few weeks you will see an increased presence on the road network of Wales as we aim to keep all road users safe and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

 We know that the majority of road users comply with the speed limit; but the minority of those who do not increases the risk to the safety of all road users and need to be educated on the risks to their own safety as well as to the safety of those around them. Throughout this campaign, GoSafe and our partners in the Police and Local Authorities will encourage and educate more people to reduce their speed to save lives.

Teresa Ciano, GoSafe Partnership Manager said: “GoSafe enforce at sites across Wales in order to encourage motorists to comply with the speed limits and in turn make our roads and communities safer for everyone. If we all play our part and stand up for slowing down we can make a difference, and we can save lives on the roads of Wales.”

Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “I am very pleased to support this campaign. Driving at high speeds costs lives and a greater police presence on our roads will mean motorists will be more likely to drive within the speed limits, protecting lives and avoiding a speeding fine.”

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£100,000 of cannabis plants seized in west Wales police raid

Thomas Sinclair

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POLICE seized cannabis plants worth an estimated £100,000 during a warrant near Ammanford.

Dyfed-Powys Police searched a home in Garnant on Wednesday, July 21, where 100 plants were discovered to be growing in the front room and two bedrooms.

Given the number and maturity of some of the plants, officers estimate the quantity of cannabis growing to be worth around £100,000.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “This was a significant seizure of cannabis plants, which were growing in a sophisticated set-up across three rooms.

“Our investigation is ongoing into who is responsible, as there was nobody present at the time of the warrant, and we are carrying out all possible lines of enquiry to identify a suspect.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for showing great teamwork during the warrant and subsequent enquiries.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://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.

Quote reference: DPP/2891/21/07/2021/02/C.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

(Picture above: File Image)

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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