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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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Young women in Ceredigion make their voices heard

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PERIOD poverty, access to mental health services and equal pay were among the issues raised by young women on International Women’s Day 2019.

On 8 March, in collaboration with the Young Women’s Trust, Ben Lake MP hosted a ‘Real Talk’ workshop aimed at young women aged 16 to 30 years old. Young women from all walks of life came together at the Coliseum Coffee House to voice their concerns and share their hopes for the future with the local MP.

Ben Lake said: “It was great to hear new ideas for change and to discuss ways in which we can improve the lives of young people in Ceredigion. The experiences of women and girls must be heard, both locally and nationally. After all, it is impossible for policies to be truly effective if they do not reflect the wishes, and address the challenges faced by all in society.”

(Credited to Lauren Garside, Year 1 Coleg Ceredigion Media Production student) The ‘Real Talk’ workshop held on International Women’s Day at Ceredigion Museum.

The young women set out three priorities for Ben Lake to campaign for on their behalf at Westminster:

1. Education: ensure that equality issues and mental health awareness training is included on all PGCE courses
2. Increase the national minimum wage for apprentices and roll out National Living Wage for under-25s
3. Period poverty: campaign, raise awareness and look to introduce policies to mitigate the effects of period poverty

Period poverty in particular, was an issue that the young women felt needed tackling as a matter of urgency. A recent report from FreedomforGirls* found that period poverty has a direct impact on education, with pupils in the UK missing class every month due to their periods. A RightsInfo investigation** discovered thousands of women were relying on food banks to get through their monthly periods.

In an attempt to tackle period poverty, the UK Chancellor confirmed in his Spring Statement that secondary schools in England will start providing menstrual products free of charge to girls from September onwards. Ben Lake MP has encouraged the Welsh Government to follow suit.

Ben Lake said: “All women, regardless of age, social status or background, should be able to easily access the menstrual products they need.

“Too many girls miss out on vital education each month as a lack of access to menstrual products forces them to miss school. Even those pupils who do not suffer period poverty will benefit from free access to sanitary products, ensuring no child is without protection during what can be a very stressful and vulnerable time.”

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New Welsh language resources for Ceredigion childminders

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FROM April this year, childminders across Ceredigion will have the chance to use the special Welsh ‘Sach Stori’ resource. This aims to promote Welsh language skills to children in the county.

Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion has been working with Ceredigion County Council’s Childcare Unit to develop story packs which include a Welsh/bilingual story and a pack of resources that will be available to registered childminders in Ceredigion. The project has been in development for the last two years. The finished packs will be available to the county’s childminders from 18 March. The resource will be officially launched at a story session in Awen Teifi, Cardigan on 3 April at 10am.

Llinos Hallgarth, Cered’s Development Officer said, “This is an exciting project based on a period of co-operation with the county’s childminders to ensure a package that will be of particular benefit to them. The pack contains a story as well as educational materials that can reinforce the story or message of the story, all of which are in Welsh.”

“In order to encourage their use, we will be holding practical sessions for childminders across the county so that they can familiarise themselves with the finished pack and methods of presenting it.”

Emma Poole from the Childcare Unit said, “Sach Stori will be a great help to the Welsh and Non-Welsh speaking childminders to try and integrate the Welsh language into everyday life. This project will help childminders to deliver the Welsh language in an enjoyable way within the home.”

This project reinforces the work the Childcare Unit is aiming to do to raise awareness of the use of the Welsh language within childcare settings. This project will help settings to meet the requirements of the Care Inspectorate Wales and also support Welsh Government’s efforts to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The 10 ‘Sach Stori’ will be available to childminders and will be regularly renewed to keep them updated.

For further information contact Llinos Hallgarth at Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion on 01545 572 358 or call the Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 and ask to speak to Emma Poole at the Childcare Unit.

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Council preparing for Brexit

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WITH Brexit discussions ongoing and regularly in the headlines, Ceredigion County Council has been preparing for a range of potential impacts of Brexit. The preparations are designed to minimise any negative effects that Brexit could have on Ceredigion residents.

Eifion Evans is the Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council. He said, “We don’t know how Brexit is going to pan out. We hope that there will be little or no disruption to residents or council services. However, we are making careful preparations to minimise any negative impacts that Brexit could have.”

The council has been preparing in many different ways. Some of these include:

Working with companies that provide food to schools and canteens to see how different kinds of Brexit could affect their ability to provide ingredients. Plans have been made to replace ingredients that can’t be sourced to others if Brexit affects food coming into the country.

Council Social Care Officers have been working closely with companies who carry out social care services for the council. The officers have been helping companies to plan for Brexit situations with or without a deal. Common themes that the companies have been discussing surround medical and food supplies and staffing.

Human Resources have been identifying EU nationals who work for the council and who work for services commissioned by the council. Plans are being made to help them apply for settled status when the process starts on 29 March. Plans are also being made to help residents from EU countries to apply.

Environmental Health Officers have looked into the likely impact on officers to provide additional export licensing to companies exporting certain foods to EU countries after Brexit.

The council is contributing fully as an active member of the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum. The multi-agency forum covers the Dyfed Powys Police area. It is responsible for managing serious risks to the community on a joint basis.

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