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Dyfed Powys Police

Eight assaults EVERY DAY on Welsh emergency workers in first six months of 2021

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Eight assaults every day were committed against Welsh emergency workers during the first six months of this year, new figures have revealed.

More than 1,360 assaults were committed in the six-month period from 01 January 2021 – 30 June 2021.

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They included kicking, slapping, head-butting and verbal abuse, and ranged from common assault to serious premediated attacks involving grievous bodily harm.

At least 21 incidents involved a weapon.

With Christmas fast approaching – the time of year when assaults traditionally spike – emergency workers are asking the public to treat them with respect.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a fraught time for all of us, but that’s no excuse to assault an emergency worker, who are normal human beings just trying to do a job.

“The run-up to Christmas means more people are out enjoying the revelry, and with alcohol consumption comes an increase in assaults, both physical and verbal.

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“There were 60 verbal attacks alone on our ambulance control room staff in the first six months of the year.

“We know it’s distressing when you’re waiting for help, but abusing our call handlers is not the answer – if anything, it could potentially delay help.

“On the road meanwhile, crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their safety is compromised, and that’s not helpful for anyone, especially the patient.

“The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us this Christmas.”

Almost half (47%) of assaults in the six-month period took place in South East Wales; Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Bridgend are among the most prolific local authority areas.

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Offenders aged 26-35 account for the highest portion of offending (24%), while a third of incidents involved people under the influence of alcohol.

May 2021 saw the highest volume of assaults (281) as the hospitality industry re-opened in Wales after the second Covid-19 lockdown.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, there have been at least 36 incidents where an emergency worker has been deliberately coughed at.

Assaults on police account for two thirds (67%) of the total number, averaging 152 victims every month in the six-month period.

Claire Parmenter, Temporary Chief Constable at Dyfed Powys Police, said: “Assaults on police officers continue to increase and this is completely unacceptable. 

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“Assault is a traumatic offence that causes great distress to anyone, and it is no different when the victim is an emergency worker.

“In September, we saw a man handed a 26-week prison sentence suspended for two years after he violently attacked two of our police officers who had gone to his aid.

“Concerned for his safety, they gave him a lift home – and in return both were physically injured.

“The psychological impact on both officers is something they will take time to recover from.

“In the same month alone, three officers carrying out their duties suffered injuries in an unprovoked attack at the hands of the man they were trying to arrest.

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“Despite the offender’s efforts, the officers were able to arrest him although they were left with injuries.

“The offender appeared in court the day after his arrest, where he was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

“Assaults such as these stay with the victims for the rest of their careers, and none of my officers and staff should have to go to work serving the public and be afraid of being assaulted.

“With the upcoming season of goodwill, please respect and protect our emergency workers.”

Although fewer in number – 22 incidents over the six-month period – March 2021 saw an unexplained rise in assaults on fire service colleagues, especially in South Wales.

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Chief Fire Officer Huw Jakeway QFSM from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Our emergency services work hard every day keeping the public safe and should not have to deal with abuse.

“Attacks on crews while protecting our communities and keeping people safe is completely unacceptable.

“Our blue light services come to work to serve and protect the public and the impact of such assaults can lead to life-changing consequences for those involved.

“This type of behaviour is, of course, carried out by a very small minority, and we once again thank our communities for their continued support in working with us this festive season to stay safe.”

Under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, the definition of an emergency worker includes police, fire and ambulance staff, as well as prison staff and NHS workers.

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Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales, said: “Our emergency workers provide life-saving and life-changing care every day in often difficult circumstances.

“Our NHS staff are preparing for a challenging Christmas period so now, more than ever, they deserve to be treated with respect.

“Any form of attack on our emergency workers is completely unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to work with NHS Wales employers and our partner agencies to eradicate physical or verbal assaults on staff.”

Last week, UK Government announced that it was introducing a new law that will mean a mandatory life sentence for those who kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.

The Ministry of Justice said it would aim to pass ‘Harper’s Law’ in England and Wales – in memory of Thames Valley Police PC Andrew Harper, who was killed in the line of duty in 2019 – as soon as possible.

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The With Us, Not Against Us campaign was launched in May 2021 by the Joint Emergency Service Group in Wales to try and reduce the number of assaults on emergency workers.

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Carmarthenshire

PCSO works to bring end to unscrupulous cockle pickers in Kidwelly, Ferryside, Llansteffan and Laugharne

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PCSO Helen Fender has been recognised at Dyfed Powys Police’s awards for her efforts in tackling anti-social behaviour associated with unscrupulous cockle pickers descending on the communities of St Ishmael, Kidwelly, Llanybri, Llansteffan and Laugharne.

To effect change, PCSO Fender looked at the issue and its cause – pinpointing an old by-law that allowed anyone to get a free permit to pick cockles in the Three Rivers Fishery cockle beds.

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PCSO Helen Fender (Image: Dyfed Powys Police)

In 2017 there were more than 1,000 permit holders and the only regulation for obtaining a permit is to give a name, address, contact details and a photograph for ID.

“I noticed that something had to be done, it couldn’t go on this way as it was causing no end of issues for the community and the genuine fishermen who relied on picking cockles for a living,” she said.

“On the Bury Inlet there was no issue as it was much harder to get a permit.”

PCSO Fender set about working with the Welsh Government to try and make the Three Rivers Fishery regulated as other cockle beds are.

A three-month consultation is being launched with the aim to bring in tougher legislation for permits to be issued – with requirements to include training, minimum kit standards, their employment status for HMRC and an annual fee of £800.

“I’ve worked with the communities and with the local fishermen on this, and they are supportive,” said PCSO Fender.

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“When you’ve got 1,000 permits handed out to people from all over the country, there is going to be problems for the community and it impacts the local gatherers who depend on this industry to make a living.

“It was having a really detrimental effect on the lives of people in the area and it was proving dangerous, with numerous quads on the beaches and villages, even crossing railway lines.”

The issue has caused problems over the years with the Welsh Government Marine and Fisheries Division closing the Three Rivers Fishery cockle beds from 2012 to 2017 due to serious reports of anti-social behaviour, including people sleeping rough, litter not disposed of properly, no toilet facilities, and large articulated lorries trying to access small village roads.     

Sgt Gemma Davies said: “Helen has conducted a thorough and detailed enquiry into the underlying issues at the location, has sourced expert opinion and discussed numerous options to try and implement change for the better for the cockling community and the people living near to the cockle beds.

“We’re hopeful to achieving a regulated permit system which can be monitored and ‘policed’ by the fisheries more effectively.”

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Lead image: File photo of cockle picking in the Burry Inlet (Image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Carmarthenshire

Police officer uses miracle spray to save life of Llanelli drug overdose victim

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A police officer equipped with a miracle spray has saved the life of an overdose victim in Carmarthenshire.

PC Gareth Rees, one of several officers across the force carrying nasal spray Nyxoid in a trial launched on Wednesday, 1 December, was called to a man in an intoxicated state shouting for help on the floor in Llanelli late at night earlier this month.

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By the time PC Rees arrived the man was unconscious and his breathing was laboured.

Identifying this as a sign he was suffering an overdose, PC Rees administered the spray.

“Within five to ten seconds he was conscious,” said PC Rees.

“It’s quite amazing how it works so quickly, it definitely made a difference for this man.”

The man involved has been positively dealt with and referred to Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Service (DDAS) who have been commissioned to support Dyfed-Powys Police.

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The trial is operating in Llanelli, Aberystwyth, Pembroke Dock and Llandrindod Wells for six months, with the ambition of reducing deaths from drug overdoses.

APB Prevention and Population Health Improvement Strategy Manager at Hywel Dda UHB, Craig Jones, said, “Response officers are quite often the first on scene to an overdose and by providing them with Naloxone, they will be in a position to save lives.

“Numbers of drug related deaths in Hywel Dda have fallen since 2020 and we see this as another initiative to keep the data moving in the right direction. The fact that an officer utilised his training and used Naloxone to save a life just 9 days into the trial is very rewarding and shows the impact this initiative will have.”

Chief Inspector Christina Fraser, who is leading the pilot, said the force had been using Naloxone within custody suites for many years but the introduction of the Nyxoid nasal spray, meant officers could easily use it whilst out on patrol. 

She added: “We have trained officers on a voluntarily basis to carry and utilise Nyxoid spray as part of our first aid provision.

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“We went live with the pilot on 1st December and I am pleased to report that we have been notified of its first successful use.

“It is really heartening to see the use of Nyxoid making a difference in saving peoples’ lives.

“I am extremely proud of those officers who have put themselves forward to be trained in the use of and carry Nyxoid and grateful to our partners DDAS, Kaleidoscope, Hywel Dda and Powys Health boards for their support on this trial.”

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Dyfed Powys Police

Police stop check leads to seizure of £14k found in car

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A routine stop check carried out by officers from Dyfed-Powys Police resulted in more than £14,000 being seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

On the evening of Thursday, 28 January, a stop check was carried out on a car on the A477 just outside Pembroke Dock for suspected driving without insurance.

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The driver, Steven Davies, aged 47, of West Lee, Riverside, Cardiff, and his passenger, Craig Williams, aged 37, of Heol Eglwys, Caerau, Cardiff, stated they had come down for a spin to get away from Cardiff.

When pressed, Davies became quite nervous and started shaking, which led the officers to search he vehicle under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

PC Rob Garland, who made the stop, said: “In the footwell of the front passenger seat was a sat nav box wrapped in silver gaffer tape.

“Once we managed to prize the box open he could see that it was stuffed with bundles of notes.”

Both men were arrested and the money seized under the POCA.

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On Friday, 26th November, at Llanelli Magistrates Court an application was made for the permanent forfeiture of the seized cash, which totalled £14,070.

PC Garland added: “The courts agreed that the occupants’ accounts were not credible and that they could not account for and nor evidence being in possession of such a sum of money, therefore the court authorised the forfeiture of the money.

“I hope that as a force we can apply for some of this money that can be used to help victims of crime in our force area and to help safeguard the vulnerable.”

PC Garland also thanked the force’s Economic Crime Team, which helped ensure there was sufficient evidence to prove the money was not legally obtained.

Superintendent Anthony Evans said: ”This is an excellent example of our officers targeting organised criminals and depriving them of their criminally gained assets.

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“We are determined to proactively catch those that target our communities for criminal gain.

“We cannot do this alone and urge everyone to report, anonymously if required, those that commit crime in our communities via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”

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