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Police and Crime

Sobriety tags to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime in Wales

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Criminals in Wales who commit alcohol-fuelled crimes can be banned from drinking and ordered to wear a ‘sobriety tag’ by judges.

The tags monitor offenders’ sweat every 30 minutes and alert the probation service if alcohol is consumed. Not complying with their alcohol abstinence order – new powers allowing courts to issue drinking bans for up to 120 days – could see them back in court for further sentencing or facing fines.

It is the latest boost to the Government’s plans to make community sentences more robust, a tougher punishment while also making criminals less likely to reoffend. Last month, the Lord Chancellor set out reforms to make community orders stricter and expand the use of electronic monitoring.

Alcohol is a factor in around 39% of violent crime, with the social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm stretching to over £21 billion per year. It is seen as one of the driving influencers of domestic violence and unprovoked attacks on strangers. That is why the sobriety tags will be backed up by targeted professional support, signposting offenders to the help they need to improve their lifestyle and rein in their drinking. Referrals to treatment will continue to be made for those with more serious alcohol addictions who commit crimes.

Swansea Crown Court (Image: Nigel Davies / Geograph)
Kit Malthouse MP

Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse MP said:” All too often we see the devastating effects of alcohol-fuelled behaviour, reckless crimes and casual violence which blight our neighbourhoods and the lives of too many victims.

“This proven new tool can break the self-destructive cycle that offenders end up in, helping them sober up if they choose to and the courts to punish those who don’t.”

The scheme follows two successful pilots in London and across Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire which showed that offenders were alcohol free on over 97% of the days monitored. Wearers also reported a positive impact on their lives, wellbeing and behaviour.

At present, abstinence orders can last for four months but we are looking at whether they should be able to last longer as part of our sentencing reforms.

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The tags alert staff when they have been tampered with and can distinguish between drinks and other types of alcohol – such as hand sanitiser or perfume. They work 24/7 and can also tell if someone tries to block contact between the tag and their skin.

Simon Hart MP

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Alcohol can have a devastating impact on lives and figures show it is a key factor behind far too many crimes.

“I am encouraged to see Wales at the forefront of implementing this new technology, which we believe will contribute towards lowering reoffending rates, making our streets safer and supporting those who need help.

“The Government’s plans to overhaul sentencing will see dangerous offenders spend longer in prison, while greater efforts are made to tackle the root causes of offending. More support will be on offer for those willing to turn their back on crime through treatment for mental health issues and addictions. Supervision of offenders in the community will be improved with greater powers for probation officers and increased curfews. The Government also plans to use GPS tags to track burglars, robbers and thieves when they are released from prison.”

(Lead photo: Little Visuals on Pexels.com)


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Port Talbot

Police launch appeal to find missing disabled woman

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South Wales Police have launched an appeal to find missing Waunarlwydd woman, Kelly Randell.

45 year-old Kelly was last seen in Port Talbot on Tuesday 3 May.

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A wheelchair user with one leg, Kelly is described as being around 5ft of medium build with brown hair which is tied up – possibly in a bun.

She was last seen wearing black jeans and a black coat.

She has links to both Swansea and Port Talbot.

South Wales Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen Kelly, or who has information which will help them to find her, to contact them online or by calling 101 quoting occurrence number 2200149152.

(Lead image: Family photo / South Wales Police)

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Ammanford

Man who filmed rape on Ammanford victim’s phone changes plea mid trial

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A man who filmed himself raping an Ammanford woman on his victim’s phone has changed his plea to guilty midway through his trial.

Cameron Hassan, aged 31, of no fixed abode, attacked the woman, raping her as she slept on 21 August 2021.

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Hassan had been on trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying any wrongdoing. However, after the jury was shown the video of the attack and hearing the victim was going to give evidence yesterday (Tuesday, 10 May), Hassan changed his plea to guilty.

Investigating Officer DC Sophie Lambert from Dyfed Powys Police said the victim had shown great strength and determination throughout the investigation.

“I must commend her tremendous courage in coming forward and the tenacity shown throughout the investigation,” she said.

“We hope this case demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police acts on serious allegations such as rape and sexual assault with officers working tirelessly to secure justice for victims.

“If you are suffering because of similar abuse, please contact the police, or if you would rather speak to someone in confidence, New Pathways are an independent charity that will support you through every step of the investigation.”

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New Pathways can be contacted at 01685 379 310 or email enquiries@newpathways.org.uk

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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