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Carmarthenshire

Dyfed Powys Police fail to identify dog theft suspects in 70% of cases new figures reveal

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crop owner taming labrador retriever in sunlight outdoors

New figures by the Kennel Club show the scale of dog theft in the UK and ‘jaw dropping’ failure to tackle the crime

The figures obtained by Freedom of Information requests to UK Police Forces show a staggering 98 per cent of dog theft criminals are never charged, and in more than half of cases a suspect is never identified.

The police forces least likely to identify a suspect in 2020 were Northamptonshire (77 per cent) and Dyfed Powys – covering Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion (70 per cent).

Across the UK 196 cases of dog theft are reported every month, up 7 per cent on 2019 as the pandemic puppy surge has led to growing dog theft fears.

As concerns about dog theft soar following the surge in pandemic puppy buying, new research shows a shocking failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196 families every month, with only two per cent of cases in 2020 resulting in a criminal charge.

The statistics, gathered by The Kennel Club through Freedom of Information requests to the 45 police forces in the UK to which 36 responded, show that there were an estimated 2,355 cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a 7 per cent increase on 2019 (2,199). This amounts to more than 196 dogs being stolen, to the heartbreak of their owners, every single month.

adorable papillon dog standing on rural road in sunny nature

However, based on the 27 police forces that provided data for dog theft case outcomes in 2020, only two per cent of all dog theft cases in the UK led to a suspect being charged. These were almost entirely brought in by the Metropolitan Police (nine per cent of all cases dealt with by the force) and Cheshire Constabulary (two per cent of all cases dealt with by the force).

In 2020, no suspect was identified in more than half (54 per cent) of reported dog theft cases and three per cent of cases were dismissed as not being in the public interest. In more than a quarter (27 per cent), a suspect was identified but nothing further was done due to ‘evidential difficulties’.

The statistics are revealed 79 days after the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce was established (8 May) to help tackle the issue – in which time another 508 dogs have been stolen. The Kennel Club is urging more transparent recording of pet theft on a central database, so that underlying causes of dog theft can be tackled, and for the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing.

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“Dog theft has devastating consequences for both the owners and the pets involved and it is quite frankly jaw dropping that 98 per cent of cases never result in a criminal charge, and in more than half no suspect is ever identified,” said Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel Club.

“Not only that, but when a suspect is found and sentenced, dog theft is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.

“Whilst thankfully most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to justice. We welcome the Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the Taskforce can deliver meaningful change in England and Wales; giving greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and delivering more proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves. This is needed across the UK – from the Scottish Government and Northern Irish Executive too.”

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Amongst the actions being called for as part of The Kennel Club’s ‘paw and order: dog theft reform’ campaign is for more resources to be allocated to this crime and for more transparent, centralised collection of data about pet theft, including the number of crimes, arrests and convictions. Currently, there is no central record in order to help decision-makers understand the scale of the problem or the circumstances around it – for example, whether a theft was driven by opportunism or organised crime.

The Kennel Club is also calling for a reclassification of how dog theft is treated in the law, as currently sentences place undue weighting on the monetary value of the pet rather than giving sufficient weight to the emotional impact of the crime. This means it is often treated in the same way as the theft of a laptop or mobile phone, rather than as a category one offence, which carries a maximum of seven years in prison in England and Wales.

Dog owners are reminded that they are unlikely to fall victim to this crime but there are steps they can take to help keep their dogs safe.

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Bill continued: “There are steps that people can take to help protect their dogs. A dog should never be left unsupervised, whether out and about or at home in the garden, and it should have a reliable recall, so that you can always be in control of its whereabouts. It’s important that all dogs are microchipped, and that their details are kept up to date with their microchip database, and that information about your dog, such as its value or your address, isn’t shared with strangers.”

To join the ‘paw and order: dog theft reform’ campaign in calling for pet theft provisions to be revised to take into account a dog’s role within their family and the devastation caused by the crime, The Kennel Club has produced a downloadable template letter to help the pet-loving public to raise their concerns with their MP and spur Government to change the law.

The downloadable template letter, advice on preventing dog theft and further information on the campaign is available on the organisation’s website.

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Regional data

The region that is the dog theft hotspot is the North West, with 335 dogs stolen in 2020, accounting for 14 per cent of all dog thefts. This is followed by London, with 318, accounting for 14 per cent of all dog thefts, and the South East with 304 (13 per cent of all thefts).

The police force with the single greatest number of reported dog thefts in 2020 was the Metropolitan Police (318), followed by West Yorkshire (121), Kent (117), Lancashire (98) and Northumbria (97).

The regions in which police are least likely to identify a suspect are the North East, with no suspect in 66 per cent of cases in 2020, followed by Wales (63 per cent) and the South East (62 per cent). The police forces least likely to identify a suspect in 2020 were Northamptonshire (77 per cent) and Dyfed Powys (70 per cent).

When a suspect was identified, charges were only brought against a suspect by three forces in 2020: the Metropolitan Police, Cheshire Constabulary and Kent Police, accounting for 9 per cent, 2 per cent and 1 per cent of all dog theft cases in those forces, respectively.

In 2020, a suspect was most likely to be identified but further action stopped due to evidential difficulties in the East Midlands (36 per cent), the East of England (35 per cent) and Yorkshire and Humber (34 per cent).

(Lead image: Blue Bird / Pexels.com)

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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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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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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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