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Police issue online blackmail advice after rise in cases

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DON’T panic. Don’t communicate. Don’t pay.

That’s the advice given to victims of online blackmail who are faced with demands to pay up to $1,900 or the threat that intimate photos and videos will be shared.

Dyfed-Powys Police has offered the guidance after recording four reports of online blackmail over the past month. Victims are being contacted through email or social media, with demands to make payments in Bitcoin.

The recent reports have followed two patterns.

Detective Chief Inspector Estelle Hopkin Davies said: “In two cases we’ve had recently, the victims have accepted a social media friend request from an unknown person, and started to chat with them.

“The offender has then asked the victim to engage in a video chat, with intimate photos and videos being shared. Following the conversation, a list of demands has been sent to the victim, with threats that if they do not pay, the videos will be sent to family and friends, or posted online.

“One victim reported that the blackmail fee was £1,500, which thankfully they did not pay.

“In two other cases that have been reported over the past month, the victim has been watching pornography online, and received an email containing threats shortly after.

“The offender claimed to have hacked their device and set up a dual screen system where they could record what the victim was watching, as well as what they were doing. The victims were told that the hacker had videos of them, which again would be shared with family and friends.”

Following these recent reports, Dyfed-Powys Police has offered advice to anyone who receives similar threats online.

  • Don’t panic. Stay calm and report it to police immediately. Your case will be taken seriously, it will be dealt with in confidence, and no judgements will be made on your behaviour.
  • Do not pay. In some cases where victims have paid in the hope that the threats will go away, they have continued to receive demands. If you have already paid, check if the money has been collected. If it has, and you are able to, make a note of where it was collected. If it hasn’t then you can cancel the payment – and the quicker the better.
  • Do not communicate with the offender. Take screenshots of any conversations, deactivate the social media account they contacted you on and use online reporting processes to report the matter to the social media platform. Deactivating the account, rather than shutting it down, will ensure data is preserved and will assist police in obtaining evidence.

DCI Hopkin Davies  said: “The most important aspect in investigations of this kind is the safeguarding and support we offer to victims. People in this position feel embarrassed and vulnerable, and we need to ensure they are offered support, or know where to go to receive it.

“We urge all victims to report incidents to police – you are not alone, and by taking that step 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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Eligible unpaid carers encouraged to register for COVID-19 vaccine

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UNPAID carers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire who are not already registered as a carer with their GP practice are being asked to complete an online registration form if they wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that unpaid carers are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as part of priority group 6, subject to certain eligibility criteria.

Revised national guidance from the JCVI describes unpaid carers as those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.

Those clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 include children with severe neuro-disabilities, those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), adults who have underlying health conditions, and those who need care because of advanced age. Eligible carers should be vaccinated in priority group 6.

Anna Bird, Assistant Director of Strategic Partnerships at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Unpaid carers play a vital role offering care and support and it is in everyone’s interest that they are supported. 

“For many years now, the health board has built strong links with unpaid carers across our three counties through initiatives such as our Investors in Carers scheme, designed to help organisations focus on, and improve, their carer awareness and the help and support they give to carers.

“There are over 10,000 unpaid carers registered with GP practices or the local authority across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire but we know there are many more people out there who may not recognise themselves as an unpaid carer and are unaware that support is available for them, including their eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine.”

If you believe you may be eligible, are aged 16 or over and are not registered as an unpaid carer with your GP, please complete this online form https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/carers-information/covid-vaccine-for-unpaid-carers/covid-vaccine-for-unpaid-carers/ to register your details. People without internet access can contact the health board on 0300 303 8322.

Those already registered as an unpaid carer with a GP will be contacted directly to receive a COVID vaccination and do not need to do anything further.

Please wait to be invited for your vaccination and do not contact your GP or health board to ask about your vaccine appointment.  You will be contacted when it is your turn, thank you for your patience and understanding.

To find out more about the support available for unpaid carers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire please visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/carers-information/

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Intense Hopes and fears as Woodland homes to go before planners

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FINDING a home and finding a job is the most important challenge for young local people.

So the excitement is intense at the prospect of six live work units on the edge of Rosebush village, edged by the 100 acre forest. The zero carbon homes would be fuelled by wood and solar PV and be built of local timber.

The developers are Coed Preseli and Down to Earth, with the support of Cooperative Wales, PCC housing department and  the Future ‘Generations office of Welsh government. They would be rented to local people in perpetuity, at low rents, people who want to run a business from home, relating to the forest resource or supporting the local area.

Architects plan

Thirteen local young families are queuing up for the six homes, one writes: “It would be mine and my partner’s dream to have something like this project. He is a time served carpenter, spoon carver, furniture maker. He has also done some chainsaw carving. Oh and is a qualified engineer. I am a newly qualified furniture maker, and we are slowly building up a collection of tools to start a workshop of our own.”

Another said: “I used to work in forestry driving a forwarder and harvester mainly doing thinnings, but now I have become an arborist (tree surgeon) and I know Huw the forest manager has been trying to introduce pine Martins and Ospreys down here. Which a friend has been climbing the trees to put in man made nests for them and I’d love to be part of helping them”

Another works with big machinery in forests, leaving his family for long days in an upstairs flat with a small child and no access to a garden. It is hard on them. For this family too, the development would be the answer to their prayers.

The National Park Authority is recommending refusal on the plans

But The National Park Authority is recommending refusal on March 10. They give a number of reasons for rejection. The architect representing the owners have written to explain how each reason is erroneous or has been addressed.

The young families are puzzled. Under One Planet Development people can come in from away and build a home in the open countryside, but local people offered the chance of the workshop they desperately need, with a home to rent at social housing rates, on the edge of an existing village, are all turned down. There is heartbreak and bewilderment among them. 

“We are offering new businesses. We are working and paying taxes. This is our community where our families are. Don’t they want us here?” As a well known north Pembrokeshire Councillor exclaimed “What is wrong with the Park?”

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Aberystwyth walker’s 100 miles challenge in time for 64th birthday

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HYWEL DDA Health Charities has thanked epic fundraiser Annette Smith from Talybont, Aberystwyth who has raised £710 so far walking over 100 miles in 21 days, around her local area to raise money for Bronglais Chemotherapy Day Unit.

Annette normally walks at the most 60 miles a month, so the 63 year old had really pushed her limits. She started on 10 th February and finished mile 100 on Tuesday 2 nd March, ten days before her 64th birthday on 12 th March, when she’ll celebrate her achievement with some well-deserved cake!

Annette has walked every day, trying to get to walk done in the morning to give her a good start to the day.

She says “I want to give something back to our local services in the NHS. I feel incredibly lucky that my family and I haven’t been too affected by Coronavirus and I want to do my bit to help. I feel like I need to do something to say thank you.

“I also want to set myself a challenge and push myself out of my comfort zone. Something for me to feel proud of.

“I have friends who have used or are using the chemo unit and I am worried pressures on services will increase once life starts to go back to normal.”

Annette said the challenge was a test of her physical and mental grit, but added that it was lovely to explore her local area and enjoy the surroundings.

She added “I feel ecstatic that my personal challenge has raised such a goodly sum to contribute to the great work of the Chemotherapy Day Unit at Bronglais Hospital. Their work will continue beyond this current crisis. Thanks to all my supporters and it would be great to think that my efforts could raise even more!”

Hywel Dda Health Charities is the official NHS charity for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and

Pembrokeshire. Fundraising Manager Tara Nickerson said, “We are always grateful when people take the time to support our work, delivering services and activities above and beyond what the NHS provides. It’s truly inspiring when people who have received NHS care decide to give back as Annette has. The money she raises will directly benefit NHS patients and staff.”

There’s still time to support Annette’s amazing efforts and donate at

http://www.justgiving.com/anothersmithy

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