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Minister says ‘Conversations on accountability for violence against women should focus on the behaviour of perpetrators and not that of victims’

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Conversations on accountability for violence against women should focus on the behaviour of perpetrators and not that of victims, says Wales’ Minister for Social Justice, as the world marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Today [Thursday 25th November] also marks White Ribbon Day, the beginning of 16 days of activism aiming to end violence against women, putting the onus on men and boys to call out abusive and sexist behaviour among their friends, colleagues and communities.

Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, said: “Let it be clear that it is not for women to modify their behaviour, it is for abusers to change theirs. The constant and pervasive effects of male violence and gender inequality have conditioned women’s lives for far too long.

“White Ribbon Day and its 16 days of activism focus on empowering men and boys to call out inappropriate behaviours, when safe to do so, and offer support. Tackling male violence, gender inequality and misogyny require action at both ends of the spectrum; we must support survivors and we must hold perpetrators to account but we must also create genuine behaviour change.

“Only then can Wales truly uphold a culture of equality and respect – something we all must carry forward to ensure every single person can live fear free.”

Councillor Huw David (Bridgend), Welsh Local Government Association Presiding Officer said: “Violence against women in all its forms continues to be a devastating scourge in our communities. It is shocking that two women a week are killed by a current or former partner and 10,000 women a week experience sexual abuse in Wales and England. We must all continue to do all we can to bring such heinous behaviour to an end. Local government remains wholeheartedly committed to working to see this ambition realised.

“Every year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women gives us all a chance to consider our actions. There are simply no excuses whatsoever to justify any such violence or abuse. I would urge everyone across all our communities to show their support by taking the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women. Together, we can all stand up loud and proud and show that there is no place in society for such barbaric behaviour.”

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The Welsh Government’s Violence against Women, Domestic abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Annual Progress Report for 2020 to 2021 has also been published today, whilst a public consultation on how Wales can strengthen its National Strategy for the next 5 years is due to be launched on 7th December 2021.

This will include a focus on violence against women in the street and workplace, as well as the home, in order to make Wales the safest place in Europe to be a woman.

Penclawdd

Penclawdd child sex offender jailed for nine years

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A Penclawdd man has been jailed for nine years following an intelligence-led operation by Tarian, the regional organised crime unit, along with South Wales Police.

A previously convicted paedophile Steven Morris 58, from Penclawdd in Swansea appeared before Swansea Crown Court today for sentencing, where he had previously pleaded guilty to sexually communicating with a child, meeting a child following sexual grooming as well as breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

He was arrested on the 14th October 2021 by detectives from Tarian Disruption Unit and investigated by Swansea Criminal Investigation Department, where he was remanded in custody until his appearance today.

Morris engaged in conversation with what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, who was in fact an undercover police officer. He told the officer “Do mum and dad know u chat? My wife doesn’t xxx”.

Upon hearing she was just 13 years old Morris stated “As long as u aren’t police or gonna report me I’m happy to chat and meet up if u are genuine”.

Morris’ conversations with the officer became more sexually explicit, he sent images of himself and began to suggest that the pair meet in person, saying things like “If we meet it would be really secret xxxx”.

A date was then arranged for Morris to meet with the undercover officer at a location in Pontypridd on the 14th October 2021. Once he arrived at the agreed location he was quickly arrested by officers from TARIAN’s Disruption Team.

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Morris was given a nine-year extended sentence. Four of which will be spent in prison. He was placed on the Registered Sex Offenders list indefinitely, and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

Detective Inspector Dave Bancroft said: “This is an excellent operation between Tarian South Wales Police.

“It is our absolute priority to protect and keep children safe in our communities, irrelevant of who or where that threat comes from.

“Law enforcement operates across the internet, and we will relentlessly seek to bring to justice individuals who use the web to facilitate the abuse of children.”

“If anyone has been a victim of child sexual abuse, I urge you to report it to your local police force via 101. We will always follow up allegations of abuse, no matter when they occurred. Victims can talk in confidence to experienced investigators and we can also help them get access to a range of other support services.”

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“If you have concerns about your use of the internet or inappropriate thoughts or behaviour about children or if you are worried about how someone you know behaves around children or are worried about their use of the internet then the Lucy Faithfull Foundation provide a free, anonymous and confidential Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900 for advice, support and information.”

(Lead image: Tarian / South Wales Police)

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Motoring

New law change means £200 fine and 6 points for ANY use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel

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person holding white smartphone inside vehicle

Prosecution regulations have been tightened on the use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

Police will soon be able to more easily prosecute drivers using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel after the government strengthens existing laws to further improve road safety.

It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. Next year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.

“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

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“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.

“This follows a public consultation that found 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted.

“Following the public consultation, the government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.

“There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

“This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.”

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Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk. This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.

“This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.”

Edmund King, President of the AA said: “By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer. For years, the AA has campaigned hard and helped educate drivers to the dangers from bad mobile phone use.

“To help ensure drivers get the message, we also need more cops in cars to help catch and deter those still tempted to pick up.”

Simon Williams from the RAC said: “As our phones have become more sophisticated, the law has not kept pace and this has allowed some drivers who have been using their handheld phones for purposes other than communicating to exploit a loophole and avoid the maximum penalty.

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“While today’s announcement is clearly good news, it’s absolutely vital that the new law is vigorously enforced otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t deliver the sort of behaviour change that will make our roads safer.”

The Department for Transport has also today published a study by Ipsos Mori about drivers who use mobile phones while driving.

Among other findings, the research reveals younger motorists are more likely to have used a handheld device at the wheel, supporting the focus of the government’s award-winning THINK! campaign, which works to boost road safety by targeting higher-risk, younger motorists and road-users.

(Lead image: Roman Pohorecki on Pexels.com)

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South Wales Police

Six year jail sentence for Swansea rapist

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A St Thomas man has been jailed for six years after being convicted of rape at Swansea Crown Court

23 year-old Jake Evans-Hodgeson from Kinley Street in St Thomas was sentenced after being found guilty by a jury at Swansea Crown Court on Friday (19 November)

The court heard, the offence took place in September 2020 in Swansea.

South Wales Police Detective Constable Emma Robbins, officer in the case, said: “I would like to commend the victim for showing the strength and courage throughout this investigation, in order to ensure Hodgeson was brought to justice.

“I hope this sentence provides some sort of closure and comfort for the victim and she attempts to move on with her life.

“I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to come forward to report sexual abuse but I want to reassure anyone considering doing so that there is a whole range of support out there, not only from the police but from partner agencies who can help you through the entire process.”

(Lead image: South Wales Police)

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