DYFED-POWYS POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Christopher Salmon wants householders to pay less for their policing services this year.
He is recommending a 5% decrease in the policing element of council tax payments across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
Mr Salmon said: “The police force has significant reserves of £43m of public money and the long-term trend is that crime is falling.
“I want to realign the level of precept with the real cost of running Dyfed-Powys Police; a fall in the precept will help that process.”
Mr Salmon’s proposal would result in a policing precept at council tax band D of £200.07 (down from £210.60) – a decrease of 20.3p per week. It would help deliver a 2015- 16 Dyfed-Powys policing budget of £95.6m (2014-15 – £97.9m).
He said: “My precept proposal balances the needs of families with the needs of our police service.
“Local policing is a priority and, due to investment in IT, our communities will see officers spend another 100,000 hours on the beat this year. That’s on top of the 30 new police officer posts we’ve created.
“An improved police air service will start soon, we have new mental health incident units, a new partnership to tackle antisocial behaviour and more domestic violence advisors. New rape crisis centres will open soon and I plan a CCTV strategy for the region.”
Mr Salmon’s precept proposal will go to the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel today (Jan 23). They have the power to reject the initial proposal. Once the Commissioner and Panel agree a figure it will be implemented.
Throughout December, Mr Salmon consulted the public and the feedback helped him propose the -5 percent figure. Around 30 percent of people said they paid too much for the police and a similar proportion asked for reserves to be used to minimise the precept rise.
In 2015-16, Government funding to Dyfed-Powys will fall in by 5.1 percent from £53.0 million to £50.3 million. A -5 percent precept decrease would produce £43.0 million for Dyfed-Powys Police. Reserves of £2.3 million would be added to create the policing budget of £95.6 million. The Chief Constable would therefore have no less money from the Commissioner in 2014-15 than he did in 2015-16.
Mr Salmon added: “My decision to cut the precept reflects what too many politicians in Wales fail to recognise; the money they handle belongs to the public. We have a duty to spend every penny of it as if it were our own.
“The public want strong frontline policing and, through the whole organisation working more wisely and professionally, that’s what I want to deliver.
“We’re on track to save £8.8 million from 2013-16 and the Dyfed- Powys civilian support services continue to become more resourceful, adaptable and flexible.
“Thanks to tough decisions and the incredibly hard work of the Chief Constable, his team, Unison and the Police Federation we have increased police officer numbers and saved £3.74 million.
“Ours is not a rich part of the world but I can now ensure that families struggling with bills will pay a little bit less. Dyfed-Powys householders will pay the same for policing in 2017 as they did in 2014.
“We will continue to invest in estates and IT to deliver 100,000 more officer hours to the front line in 2015 – and a modern, 21st century estate.”
Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit
AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.
From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.
On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.
The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”
Social media used to groom children young as six
CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.
A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.
A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.
More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.
Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.
In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.
Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.
Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.
The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.
It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.
It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.
Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.
Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.
Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.
She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.
“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.
“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.
“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.
“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.
“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”
In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.
Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.
The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.
How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.
Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.
On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.
The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.
The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.
The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”
The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.
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