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Police urge victims of sextortion and online blackmail to report crimes

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is urging victims of sextortion and online blackmail to feel empowered to come forward and report incidents without feeling embarrassed.

The force has recorded seven reports of blackmail over the past three weeks, with victims being threatened that intimate photos or videos will be shared online unless they pay in cash or Bitcoin.

In some of these cases, victims have been contacted by strangers on social media and have been asked to share intimate photos or videos of themselves. They have then received threats that these images will be posted on social media unless they pay a certain amount of money to the blackmailer.

One victim reported being asked to pay £6,000 after initially being contacted through Instagram.

In other instances, victims have received emails from unknown people who claim to have sexual photos or videos of them. They threatened to share these with friends and family unless they are paid.

In light of recent reports, officers from Dyfed-Powys Police’s Digital Communications and Cyber Crime Unit have offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.

Detective Sergeant Rob Gravelle said: “The first thing we would urge is don’t panic, and don’t respond to blackmail threats. Report it to police immediately.

“Don’t communicate with the blackmailer further, but take screenshots of any chat history as evidence. Please also take a note of their user IDs, money transfer control numbers and any photos or video that were sent.

“If any photos or videos appear on a website or social media account, report these to the site as soon as you can. Ask for the images to be removed and for the perpetrator to be blocked.

“What is really important is for victims to feel empowered to report sextortion and blackmail without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. You are not alone, and it is very likely that other people will have been targeted by these criminals.

“Your call will be treated sensitively, and by reporting incidents you could help prevent other people from becoming victims.”

To report blackmail or sextortion to Dyfed-Powys Police call 101. If you are at immediate threat of harm, always call 999.

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Blue flags to fly high over Ceredigion beaches this summer

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BLUE FLAGS will fly over five of Ceredigion’s most popular beaches this summer. Borth, Aberystwyth North, New Quay Harbour, Llangrannog and Tresaith beaches have once again been awarded the coveted Blue Flag for 2018.

In addition, Ceredigion’s beaches have been awarded 4 Green Coast awards and 13 Seaside Awards.

Blue Flag and Green Coast award beaches must meet the highest water quality standard and are judged for the provision of facilities for beach user and for demonstrating good management and safety provision.

The Seaside Award recognises beaches that have good public facilities, water quality, safety provision and management.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Tourism has welcomed this year’s award announcement: “Once again, Ceredigion’s beaches have been recognised to be amongst the best, not only in Wales, but worldwide. The awards are a mark of quality and it’s great to see Blue Flags and Seaside Awards flags flying at Ceredigion’s most popular bathing beaches again this year. Although Ceredigion’s coastline and beaches attract visitors throughout the year, this is an excellent start to the traditional holiday season and we look forward to a busy summer.”

The following beaches have been awarded 2018 coastal awards:

Blue Flag
Borth, Aberystwyth North, New Quay Harbour, Llangrannog, Tresaith

Seaside Award
Borth, Clarach, Aberystwyth North,  Aberystwyth South, Llanrhystud, New Quay Harbour, New Quay Dolau, Llangrannog, Cilborth – Llangrannog, Tresaith, Aberporth, Mwnt, Penbryn

Green Coast
Llanrhystud, Mwnt, Penbryn, Cilborth – Llangrannog

Wales’s coastal awards are administered by Keep Wales Tidy.

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Police officers to have spit and bite guards from today

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FROM today (May 18) front-line police officers across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys will be equipped with spit and bite guards.

Spit and bite guards, made from a loose-fitting, lightweight mesh fabric, are placed over a person’s head to help minimise the risks of diseases and injuries associated with spitting and biting.

This means if someone spits or bites, or threatens to spit or bite, officers have a new piece of equipment to protect themselves and others.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Both spitting and biting are a particularly unpleasant form of assault and should not be considered by anyone to be an acceptable part of the job. Figures show there were 77 spit and bite incidents against Dyfed-Powys Police officers and staff in 2017 alone – more than six per month, on average.

“Assaults by spitting and biting can have long-term and distressing implications for officers, who sometimes have to take medication for many weeks afterwards to prevent infection.

“Use of force tactics, such as spit and bite guards, are there to protect not only the public but also for the safety of our officers, who face dangerous situations every day.

“It is imperative that we employ proportionate and appropriate tactics in each situation we face in order to achieve our number one objective, protecting the public.

“Our officers go through rigorous and continued training on tactics which are considered by the Home Office as a use of force. Officers are highly trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when necessary.

“The Chief Officer team has listened to concerns raised by officers as well as taking on board recent recommendations from the National Police Chief’s Council and have taken the decision that spit guards will be rolled out to all front line officers across the force, in line with 25 other police forces nationally.”

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, said: “Dyfed-Powys Police officers do their utmost to deliver invaluable services to the public, day in day out, no matter the circumstances. It is not right that they are subject to abuse whilst performing their duties, and it is our duty to protect those who strive to keep us safe and free from harm.

“In March 2018 I wrote to Members of Parliament to encourage them to support the passage on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill through the House of Commons. It is an important initiative which seeks to underline the importance of protecting emergency workers from assaults such as spitting and biting, and is a significant step in highlighting our mutual stance on this matter. It is of utmost importance that we take action to protect our police officers.”

College of Policing said: “Spit guards are for the protection of the arresting officer, other emergency service personnel and the public.

“It is recognised that the need to use spit guards or handcuffs during the restraint of an individual may cause distress to them and those who witness the arrest.

“However, as well as serving as protective equipment for the officer, it is also recognised that, by eliminating the risk of being spat on, bitten or the transmission of communicable diseases, the need for physical restraint may be reduced.

“As such, the risk of serious physical injury to the individual being arrested, is also reduced.

“The College has recently led a national review of the Personal Safety Training given to officers, which includes a section on spit guards and the medical implications of their use.

“As with all use of force, it will be for the arresting officer to justify their actions in each individual circumstance. The availability and use of equipment such as spit guards remain a local decision for each chief constable.”

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Motorcyclist airlifted to hospital following crash

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A MOTORCYCLIST who was involved in a single-vehicle incident on the A482 was airlifted to hospital.

The incident, which happened at approximately 6pn yesterday (May 17), took place between Pumsaint and Lampeter.

The rider of the Triumph motorcycle was airlifted to Morriston Hospital in Swansea by the Wales Air Ambulance.

The helicopter landed in a nearby field.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called at shortly after 5.50pm on Thursday to reports of a road traffic collision involving a motorbike on the A482 near Lampeter.

“We sent a Wales Air Ambulance and a crew in an emergency ambulance and a man was airlifted to Morriston Hospital in Swansea in a stable condition.”

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