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Improved chopper cover for cops

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Improvements: Dyfed-Powys police helicopter service

Improvements: Dyfed-Powys
police helicopter service

THE PEOPLE of Dyfed-Powys are to get better police cover from the air. New arrangements will see a helicopter continue to be based at Pembrey in Carmarthenshire, with new cover also available from elsewhere. Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon said: “This is great news for communities across our four counties. I’ve been determined for this police force to improve air cover across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. This force covers a huge area – more than half of Wales – and policing locations so far apart brings unique challenges.”

Mr Salmon and Chief Constable Simon Prince have spent several months working towards a deal with the new National Police Air Service (NPAS) which is being rolled out following a review of air support for England and Wales. The deal, due to take effect next year, will see Dyfed-Powys’s own helicopter remain at Pembrey then be replaced at the same airport by an Airbus EC135 helicopter owned and maintained by NPAS.

It will see air support for Dyfed- Powys drawn from multiple bases and with a number of aircraft. Emergency response will be provided from Pembrey and St Athan, near Cardiff, and the force will be able to call on support from NPAS helicopters at Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, and Halfpenny Green, Wolverhampton.

The new service will cost Dyfed- Powys Police around £890,000 a year. The existing service cost the force around £1.1m in 2013-14 and is budgeted to cost around £1.2m in 2014-15. Dyfed-Powys Chief Constable Simon Prince said: “The introduction of the NPAS helicopter will allow far greater mobility to the officers of Dyfed-Powys Police and ensure that residents in every corner of the force area will benefit from this improved resource.”

The air service helps with searches for missing people, suspects and vehicles, casualty evacuation, transporting specialist teams around Dyfed-Powys’s 4,188 square miles, gathering intelligence including using automatic number plate recognition and video.

A helicopter takes around 12 minutes to search a square mile at a cost of £160 – an operation that would take 12 police officers 454 hours at a cost of around £4,680. This year the Dyfed-Powys helicopter has played a major role in recovering property worth more than £120,000, locating 23 vulnerable and missing people, and transporting seven people with life threatening injuries to hospital. It played a key role, working with neighbourhood police teams, in closing down several drugs factories and supply chains.

Flying times include Pembrey to Aberystwyth in 24 minutes; the equivalent road journey of around 64 miles takes around 112 minutes. The Dyfed-Powys helicopter unit has provided an eye-in-the-sky service for 23 years. Led by Inspector Ian Richards and featuring a sergeant, two pilots and five observers, it operates a 10-year-old Agusta 109E Power helicopter. The new arrangements will see seven of Dyfed-Powys’s nine helicopter personnel transfer to NPAS.

They will cover Dyfed-Powys but will also fly outside the area. NPAS, being paid for by all forces in England and Wales, aims to deliver a cost-effective national, borderless service making use of the nearest aircraft. It aims to improve upon current response capability. Its aircraft will be available 24/7 and will be based at strategic locations around England and Wales.

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Aberystwyth: Driver on drugs hits lorry and causes ‘road chaos’

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A DRIVER high on drugs caused 15 miles of chaos as he approached Aberystwyth on the A44.

Brian Pitts hit an oncoming lorry and road signs as he drove on the wrong side of the road.

A car passenger filmed him because she was sure a serious accident was about to happen.

Pitts, aged 57, of Delmont Close, Tipton, west Midlands, admitted dangerous driving and driving while unfit through drugs he had taken.

Dean Pulling, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on June 16 last year Pitts had been driving his Rover MGZR, towing a trailer full of wooden fencing posts, towards Aberystwyth from his home.

Richard Brooks followed the car through Llangurig and became so concerned he telephoned the police while his wife Victoria filmed Pitts on her mobile.

The Rover collided with a 13 tonne lorry driven by Andrew Paxton but failed to stop.

Pitts failed to take a roundabout and hit road signs and an embankment but still carried on.

During the 15 miles, said Mr Pulling, oncoming traffic had to swerve off the carriageway to avoid a collision.

Several motorists telephoned the police to report what they were witnessing, he added.

Pitts came to a stop in the middle of the road and another motorist snatched the keys out of the ignition–and noticed that Pitts had been driving with a dog on his lap.

Mr Pulling said police officers could tell there was something wrong with Pitts, but an alcohol text showed he was below the limit.

“He was clearly unfit,” said Mr Pulling, although it was still unclear what drugs he had taken.

Pitts was taken to Aberystwyth police station and then to Bronglais hospital, where he appeared to recover after treatment. But he soon deteriorated and had to be taken back to the hospital.

Pitts developed pneumonia and had to be kept in for nine days.

His barrister, Tom Scapens, said when Pitts had been shown the mobile telephone footage he felt physically sick.

Judge T Mervyn Hughes jailed Pitts for 10 months and banned him from driving for four years.

He told him, “If you had not been stopped I am quite sure you would have caused serious injury if not death.”

Pitts was told to pass an extended driving test before getting his licence back.

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Motion to support the reduction of plastic use in Ceredigion approved

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In a Full Council meeting on 22 February 2018, the Council unanimously supported a motion to reduce the use of plastic and to support plastic reduction initiatives in Ceredigion.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong and was seconded by Councillor Gethin Davies. The motion calls on Ceredigion County Council to support the various ‘Plastic Free’ campaigns throughout the county by reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and to promote the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events.

Councillor Mark Strong said, “I’m delighted that the Council unanimously supported the motion. This is an important step for the Council but we must carry on to reduce plastic use. Everyone has a responsibility to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic. Carrying out small acts such as buying milk from your local milkman supports the local economy but in turn also supports our environment by using reusable glass bottles.”

The motion also calls on the Council to encourage local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives as well as to support beach cleans and other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics under the “Plastic Free”, Caru Ceredigion, Tidy Towns or any similar initiative.

The motion was amended in the meeting to include the establishment of a Members’ Task and Finish group to support measures to reduce the Council’s use of plastic and to support initiatives in the county that reduce plastic use.

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Richards-Keegan cleared of sending underage girl nude pictures

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A BOW STREET man has been cleared of charges that he sent an underage girl photographs of his penis.

Paul Robert Morgan Richards-Keegan, aged 21, had denied two allegations of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Richards-Keegan, of Tregerddan, said the only messages he sent her via the internet were in response to approaches from her and did not include photographs of his private parts.

Catherine Richards, prosecuting, had told a jury at Swansea Crown Court that the 14-year-old girl had shared messages with Richards-Keegan via Snapchat.

At one stage police issued to him a child abduction notice, which he signed, instructing him not to contact the girl

In 2016 she told her mother that he was again sending her unwanted photographs of his penis attached to messages.

Richards-Keegan was arrested, and told police he had obeyed the order apart from messages he had sent after being contacted by the complainant.

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