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Volunteer officers give up time to police during the pandemic

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WHILE most people are staying home to stay safe, a small army of volunteers has been patrolling the streets to help protect communities.

Dyfed-Powys Police’s Special Constabulary has boosted numbers on the frontline, giving up hundreds of hours to support their regular colleagues in dealing with crime and enforcing new COVID-19 legislation.

Special Inspector Haydn Bradley-Davies is one of the 46 unpaid officers to step up during the pandemic, logging a mammoth 2,500 hours and carrying out 287 duties between them in April.

For S/Insp Bradley-Davies, 280 hours have been spent on duty since March 21 – five times the hours he would usually volunteer in a month.

Despite the added risks of patrolling and coming into contact with members of the public, he did not hesitate in offering his time. As he heads back to his regular full-time job, he’s given an insight into the challenges and rewards of being a Special during this extraordinary time.

He said: “I felt it was really important that I was helping the force out during its time of need, managing the new legislation and public order.

“When the new legislation was announced back in March, the Chief Constable sent a letter to Specials asking for assistance, and I felt it was essential that I helped out as much as I could.

“I knew the new rules would mean extra challenges for regular officers, who would be committed with road checks and additional patrols, as well as dealing with reports of crime. It was important to me to be able to do my bit to help my colleagues.”

Since March 21, S/Insp Bradley-Davies has attached himself to the Aberystwyth response code he usually volunteers alongside. When he would usually be working his desk job with the Welsh Government, he’s been responding to calls from the public, updating victims of crime on enquiries, protecting vulnerable people and implementing the new legislation.

Specials across the force have made seven arrests and assisted in 28, attended 25 domestic calls, carried out 656 vehicle stops, recorded five drug seizures and conducted 322 stop checks.

S/Insp Bradley-Davies said: “Enforcing the regulations has mainly involved educating members of the public in the Aberystwyth and North Ceredigion area of the new rules and their own responsibilities, as well as helping them understand what they should all be doing to protect themselves and others,” he said.

“This has been mainly via foot patrol in hotspots where there are likely to be more people, and also conducting static road checks to make sure people are only travelling for essential reasons.

“Alongside this, we’ve responded to high risk missing persons calls, assisted with scene guard following a sudden death, reports of criminal damage, burglaries and domestic incidents.”

Despite having four years of Special experience under his belt, this is the first time S/Insp Bradley-Davies has followed a shift pattern of six days on and four days off alongside his colleagues. And although he has made the most of the opportunity, he admits it hasn’t been without its challenges.

“I have worked with Code E for the majority of my specials career, so to be there with them every shift, seeing the challenges they face day to day, and to support them as much as I have was a huge pleasure,” he said.

“I’ve felt I have become so much closer to my colleagues over the past seven weeks. It’s very much like being part of a family being on shift, which has been the most enjoyable part.

“As someone who works and has always worked flexible working hours, I have found the move to a shift work pattern quite different. I’m used to the occasional night shift with my Special Constable role, but working a full pattern is challenging.

“I have enjoyed the experience, but I think it has shown me that I am not a shift person and I want to continue as a Special Constable working alongside my full time role.”

Dyfed-Powys Police currently has 88 Special Constables, who work across the force area. Many carry out the role alongside full time work and family commitments. For S/Insp Bradley-Davies and his colleagues, the opportunity to support his colleagues full time, on paid and unpaid leave, would not have been possible without the backing of their employers.

He said: “My employers at the Welsh Government have always been supportive of my role as a Special Constable and volunteering in general. Since the announcement of lockdown they have been even more supportive than normal, and allowed me to be released in order to assist Dyfed-Powys with their work.”

Special Chief Inspector Chris Evans thanked all Specials for the work they have carried out in recent weeks.

He said: “DPP Specials have been fantastic during this period. A huge thank you to them for all that they are doing.

“Thank you also to the employers of Specials who have supported their communities by allowing Specials to be on duty with the Employer Supported Policing scheme.”

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed

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AS PART of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hywel Dda University Health Board says it has temporarily closed the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Cardigan in order to redeploy clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response within Ceredigion.

The MIU, which is based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and normally operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, will temporarily close with immediate effect. The situation will be under constant review and normal service will be resumed when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the meantime, minor injuries help and advice is available as follows:

– visit the 111 symptom checker (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/)
– visit your local pharmacy
– call 111
– please do NOT self-present to the GP reception in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre as they do not deal with minor injuries.
– for emergency care the A+E departments are as follows:
· Glangwili Hospital A+E Carmarthen SA32 2AF
· Bronglais Hospital A+E Aberystwyth SY23 1ER
· Withybush Hospital A+E Haverfordwest SA61 2PZ

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