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Child cruelty offences in Wales increase by more than 50%

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shutterstock_312380828THE NUMBER of child cruelty and neglect cases recorded by police in Wales has risen by 53% in the last year, the NSPCC reveals today.

The charity’s annual child protection review – How Safe are our children? – shows parents or carers were reported in connection with 415 offences in 2014-15 compared to 272 in 2013-14.

The increase in recorded cases is reflected in the number of calls made to the NSPCC helpline about children suffering neglect. Last year there were over 16,000 contacts to the UK-wide helpline.

Adults called with fears about children who were hungry and dirty, while other contacts reported parents who were drunk or left their children to fend for themselves.

Research has proven that emotional neglect, where children are ignored and not given the love they need, is increasingly becoming more common.

Neglect remains the most common reason for a child to be placed on the child protection register (CPR) in Wales, with 40 per cent of registrations at 31 March 2015.

In a bid to tackle neglect NSPCC Cymru was commissioned by the Welsh Government to deliver the Welsh Neglect Project. The project aimed to improve multi-agency responses and services for neglected children and their families.

The children’s charity is now calling for an enhanced health visiting service and family support programmes to ensure children’s needs are met and address issues early.

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, said: “It is always worrying when statistics show cruelty and neglect offences are increasing, although one reason could be that the police, public and professionals are better at recognising the various forms of neglect.

“Neglect remains the most common reason for a child to be placed on the child protection register and is still an under-recognised and under-reported issue that often doesn’t come to the attention of police and social services. This means that the number of children suffering from abuse and neglect could be far higher.”

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “Neglect is the most common form of abuse in the UK and can wreak havoc on a child’s brain development, emotional well-being, ability to form relationships, and mental health. These children are more likely to suffer from depression and post-traumatic disorder, and even suicidal thoughts. For some, neglect can be fatal.

“These levels of neglect simply do not belong to the 21st century. It’s an unacceptable situation which must be remedied. And we can only do that by looking out for vulnerable children and making sure that they are given the right support to prevent longer term damage.”

It’s unclear why the recorded cases have risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors.

The most likely cause is that more children who are experiencing cruelty and neglect are now being identified, particularly now that emotional neglect is better recognised and the Serious Crime Act 2015 was changed to include psychological harm

One 14-year-old boy who called the NSPCC’s ChildLine service said: “I know it sounds disgusting but sometimes I feel like eating pet food because it’s all there is in the house. But I just drink water to make me feel full- up instead. My teacher has asked why I’m dressed in dirty clothes and why I never have any lunch money and I don’t know what to say. I feel angry at my parents because they don’t seem to care how miserable it’s making me. If I ask them for anything they become really angry and hit me. Sometimes I feel killing myself will be the only way out.”

Another 13-year-old told how he was forced to steal because he was so hungry: “My mum goes out every weekend to the pub. She doesn’t seem to care about me or my brother. There is never any food at home and when we ask for something to eat she gives us cereal. I’m always feeling tired and can’t concentrate – I only ever think about food when I’m at school. Sometimes I steal packed lunches from the other kids because I know I probably won’t get anything at home. I don’t know if my life will ever change but I can’t live like this anymore.”

The NSPCC is running a campaign – It’s Time – which is calling for all child victims of abuse to be given timely, appropriate therapy to help them overcome their traumatic experience and rebuild their lives.

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Police release new CCTV image of murder suspect

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has released a new CCTV image of Steve Baxter, who detectives are keen to speak to in connection with the murder of Simon Clark from Pendine, Carmarthenshire.

The image was captured in Glynneath on Saturday, September 29. He is believed to have traveled to the west Wales area shortly afterwards and is believed to be in the Haverfordwest area.

Baxter, also known as Steve Tidy, Steve Rowley, Wayne Tidy or William Tidy, is aged 52, 5’5” (1.65cm) tall and has tattoos on his forearms – the name Chez and entwined circles on his left arm and a serpent on his right arm.

He is bald, but was last seen wearing a hat and wig, as shown in this image. He may have made other attempts to alter his appearance such as growing facial hair or wearing glasses.

Detective Superintendent Huw Davies said: “We’re releasing this CCTV image from the latest confirmed sighting of Steve Baxter to give people the most up to date example of how he may be dressed and how he may currently look.

“Time is passing and we really need to speak to Steve Baxter to build a more accurate picture of what happened in Pendine.

“To anyone that may know where he is, please pass this vital information to police.”

The independent charity Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to Steve Baxter being found. Information would be taken by the charity anonymously.

If you see Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 999.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 immediately.

To pass on information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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David Davies Llandinam show comes to Tregaron

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THERE will be a special opportunity for the people of Tregaron to learn about one of Wales’ most successful industrialists, David Davies Llandinam with a performance by the drama company “Mewn Cymeriad”.

To celebrate David Davies’ link with the area, Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion, Cymdeithas Hanes Tregaron and Clwb Plant Capel Bwlchgwynt have organised a performance of the family friendly show “David Davies Llandinam”.

David Davies was born in Llandinam, Montgomeryshire but he had an influence across Wales. He built railways across the country including the Manchester and Milford Railway that connected Tregaron with Aberystwyth and Carmarthen by using a huge amount of Cardiganshire wool to lay the rails across Cors Caron.

In addition to being an astoundingly successful entrepreneur, David Davies Llandinam was the MP for Cardiganshire between 1874 and 1886. Nine years previously, he stood against one of Tregaron’s hero, Henry Richard to be the local Liberal Party candidate for the 1865 Election.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Culture, “The history of David Davies Llandinam is very interesting. It’s wonderful to see organisations coming together to put on this show in Tregaron and Mewn Cymeriad following this character’s fascinating story.”

Mewn Cymeriad is a drama company that travels across Wales to present one actor shows full of fun and excitement to children about historic characters such as Barti Ddu, the Lord Rhys, Hedd Wyn and Owain Glyndŵr. The David Davies show was written by Mewn Cymeriad’s founder Eleri Twynog Davies and the show is performed by the actor Ioan Hefin who has starred in programmes such as Hidden, Gwaith Cartref and Teulu.

The free show of David Davies Llandinam will be shown at Bwlchgwynt Vestry, Tregaron on Monday, 29 October at 7pm. Come to see the actor Ioan Hefin present a lively and interactive show about the man who brought the train to Tregaron. It is an interactive show that is aimed towards children aged 6 to 11 however it is suitable for the whole family.

For further Information, contact Steffan Rees, Cered’s Community Development Officer on 01545 572 350.

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Visit to inspect new Active Travel works held

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SUSTRANS CYMRU director, Steve Brooks visited recent work to the Aberystwyth Active Travel Network on 26 September. The network of pedestrian, cycling and general accessibility improvements has been developed in partnership with the Welsh Government and Sustrans.

Mr Brooks met with Councillor Alun Williams, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for Adult Services and the Council’s Sustainability Champion, as well as Council Officers. During the visit they discussed the work carried out so far and future work to improve the Active Travel Network in Ceredigion.

Councillor Williams praised the work undertaken to date, “It was a pleasure to meet with Sustrans colleagues and County Council officers. The excellent work that the County Council has done so far in Aberystwyth was showcased, with the aim of encouraging children to cycle, scoot and walk to school. The improvements do of course benefit everyone in the community by helping to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles whilst reducing traffic congestion and we had a useful discussion about further developing active travel initiatives across the whole of Ceredigion.”

Three towns in Ceredigion have been designated as Active Travel Settlements under the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. The Council carried out a public consultation during 2017 to identify and prioritise future improvements. As a result, walking and cycling routes are being improved incrementally through various Welsh Government grants as funding permits and subject to physical constraint.

Steve Brooks said, “Plascrug Primary is one of many schools in Ceredigion where Sustrans’ Active Journeys Programme is delivered and it’s great to see the positive difference made at these locations, in conjunction with improved routes and new scooter and cycle shelters installed by the County Council following successful grant funding from the Welsh Government. The Programme includes classroom activities where pupils can help influence future grant bids and also embraces a range of engaging activities which helps to build the confidence, enthusiasm and skills needed to help form new active travel habits. These activities and lessons support schools’ efforts in achieving Eco-Schools and Healthy Schools awards as well as working towards Sustrans School Mark award which recognises excellence in sustainable travel.”

The Council is also improving active travel opportunities outside these three settlements, such as near schools, employment sites and key tourism destinations.

Image: Left to Right: Sioned Lewis, Sustrans Cymru; Plascrug Primary School Pupils; Councillor Alun Williams; Steve Brooks, Sustrans Cymru; Gari Jones, Ceredigion County Council.

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