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Drug deaths at their highest ever levels in Wales

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WELSH drug deaths are at their highest ever levels according to a new report by Public Health Wales, with deaths from drug poisoning having increased by 78 per cent over the last 10 years.

The report also highlights that drug deaths may be increasingly occurring in people using drugs on a recreational basis, with a rise in deaths involving cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA collectively accounting for 14 per cent of drug misuse deaths. These deaths tended to occur amongst younger people in their 20’s.

In a third of all drug deaths reviewed, ‘no known contact’ was reported between the deceased and any local health, social care or criminal justice services in the 12 months prior to death.

The report recommends action to influence the current legislative approach to drugs policy in the UK, as well as a medical amnesty policy to protect people seeking medical attention relating to drug poisonings.

Drug misuse deaths, a subset of drug poisoning deaths, have increased by 52 per cent over the last decade and by 12 per cent in the last year up from 185 deaths in 2017 to 208 in 2018 – with a current rate of 72 deaths per million population. Wales has the second highest rates of drug misuse deaths in England and Wales regions.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said:
“Drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue. One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths.

“Across Wales there are effective interventions in place to reduce premature drug deaths including specialist substance misuse services and, for opioid deaths, the provision of Take-Home Naloxone. However, expansion of the Naloxone programme will be required to ensure widespread access to this life-saving intervention. In addition it is vital that the range of people using drugs are able to make better use of services that can support them, and reduce their risk of harm and premature death.

“Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by, or experiencing difficulties with drugs be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware. Evidence is clear that seeking support early on can prevent escalation of problem use and dependency, however, fear of stigmatisation and social exclusion may be barriers to this. Consideration needs to be given to how this can be overcome in Wales to prevent future tragic deaths.”

As in previous years, opioids including heroin were involved in the just over half of drug misuse deaths reported in 2018. Poly-drug use, the use of other drugs including benzodiazepines and cocaine, was reported in 49 per cent.

In addition, there has been a more than four-fold increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last five years. In 2018, cocaine was recorded in 31 of deaths, representing 15 per cent of all drug misuse deaths.

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‘Victims will be at heart of the organisation’ says re-elected’ – Dafydd Llywelyn

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DAFYDD LLYWELYN who has been re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys has said that he will ensure victims are placed at the heart of the Dyfed-Powys Police organisation as he prepares to start his second term in Office this week.

On Sunday 9 May 2021, it was announced that Mr Llywelyn won in the second round of voting, with first and second preference votes totalling 94,488.

Mr Dafydd Llywelyn told The Herald: “I am extremely pleased that I have been re-elected, and I’m grateful to the residents of Dyfed-Powys for putting their faith in me.

“To serve as a Police and Crime Commissioner is a privilege that carries great responsibility, and an honour that I do not take lightly.   I will ensure that the safety of our communities and the voice of victims are placed at the heart of this organisation as I look to support the Force to recover from the pressures put upon us in the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

On Friday 7th of May, it was announced that Dyfed-Powys Police had been issued with an accelerated cause of concern, after failing to make improvements in crime-recording practices highlighted by HMICFRS in 2018.

During his first visit to Police Headquarters since the elections, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said that he was disappointed despite being given assurances that improvements were being made in line with HMICFRS recommendations.

“Since 2018, I’ve been re-assured by the Chief Constable and the Force’s Chief Officers that improvements were being made in relation to crime recording, and I’m extremely disappointed and concerned that despite my scrutiny over the years, it has been confirmed by HMICFRS that there are still significant failures, but I am pleased however, that improvements are already being made.

“The residents of Dyfed-Powys should expect that reports of crime are recorded and investigated, and I will move swiftly over coming weeks to appoint a Chief Constable who will continue to address this issue and who will focus on placing victims at the heart of Dyfed-Powys Police”.

Additional MOJ Funding

The Police and Crime Commissioner was pleased to announce that additional funding had been secured by his Office to support organisations that provide support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Dyfed-Powys.

“We have already this week heard the news that we have been successful in our application to the Ministry of Justice to secure approximately £450,000 of additional investment into services for high risk victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Dyfed Powys.

“This is in addition to our annual victims grant and the uplift we secured last year for sexual abuse services, which allowed us to develop outreach services aimed at our rural communities and older victims in particular.”

“I am disappointed with the HMICFRS findings, and will ensure that we fully understand the position that we find ourselves in and the investment that I make as a Commissioner into services for victims provides the necessary level of support.  I want residents to feel confident that they have a Force that meets the needs and expectation of our local communities.”

“The public have put their trust in me, and I will repay that trust by holding the Chief Constable to account for addressing the HMICFRS’s concerns.”

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Plaid’s Dafydd Llywelyn re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner

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THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed Powys Area has been announced.

Incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, has been re-elected for a second term.

The election was held Thursday, 06 May 2021, at the same time as the Senedd Cymru elections.

In order to follow all coronavirus regulations, the count for this election was held on Sunday, 09 May 2021.

The announcement was made in Ceredigion, at the Ysgol Bro Teifi, Llandysul.

Dafydd Llywelyn, was first elected as one of the two new Plaid Cymru PCCs during 2016’s election and is the PCC for Dyfed-Powys Police. 

The force covers over half the land mass of Wales and during the PCC elections had the highest turnout of all PCC elections at 49%.

Mr Llywelyn is a former Principal Intelligence Analyst and worked within Police Intelligence for many years before, in 2014, moving to Aberystwyth University to lecture on Criminology. His career has provided him with considerable insight into core policing issues as well as an understanding of what the public want from the service. He has pledged to reinvest in CCTV and prevention activities and has refused to appoint a deputy.

Standing against him were three other candidates – Jon Burns (Conservative); Philippa Thompson (Labour) and Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats).

The results for Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner’s elections were as follows:

1st Round

Jon Burns (Conservatives); 69,112

Dafydd Llywelyn (Plaid Cymru); 68208

Philippa Thompson (Labour): 48033

Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats) 17649

2nd Round

Jon Burns: 8209

Dafydd Llywelyn: 26280

This was the third time police and crime commissioner elections have been held. The election was originally due to take place in May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new PCC term begins on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.
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Tregaron man charged with rape following large scale search for suspect

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POLICE in Ceredigion have confirmed that man has been charged following the large police presence and search in the Lampeter area on Thursday, May 6.

A police operation was launched after an allegation of a serious sexual assault.

Officers have now confirmed that 45-year-old Saul Henvey, of Tregaron, has been charged with rape.

He is due to appear at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court on Monday, May 10.

Detectives dealing with the case that they would continue to provide specialist support to the victim.

A spokesperson said: “We would once again like to thank the public for their assistance in this investigation.”

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