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Federation demands jail sentences for COVID-19 coughing and spitting attacks

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A North Wales police officer who was deliberately coughed on and threatened with COVID-19 has told how the experience left him anxious for the health of his family.

Experienced PC Rob Jones (pictured below), whose assailant was jailed after deliberately weaponsing the virus, called the incident ‘petrifying’ and revealed his colleagues are fearful of daily spitting and coughing attacks which might infect them with the virus.

The officer, who has 16 years’ service with the force and is based in Colwyn Bay as part of a response team, spoke out after a man was sentenced to 26 weeks at Mold Crown Court and convicted of assaulting him.

North Wales Police Federation Rep Rob said the shocking experience was one every colleague feared in the current climate. He added: “We did everything by the textbook, but it still did not prevent this individual from coughing deliberately in my face.

“He was being detained in the back of a vehicle when he repeatedly started shouting: ‘I’m going to spit in your face.’  We intended to use a spit guard to protect us, but when we opened the door to take him into custody, he went straight for me.

“It all happened so quickly, and he deliberately coughed within a few inches of my face. I could even feel the warm air from his mouth, and it was horrifying.”

Following the attack, the officer’s first thoughts turned immediately to his close family. He said: “I have vulnerable individuals around me at home, but I’ll only qualify for COVID-19 testing if I display symptoms. It’s a constant worry, and one which is in the mind of every single police officer in the nation as the number of similar attacks increases.”

North Wales Police Federation General Secretary Mark Jones welcomed the jail sentence but warned the incident was representative of a growing trend.

He said: “We’ve seen more and more of these attacks where people are deliberately weaponising COVID-19 through spitting and coughing on colleagues.

“In Rob’s case, he now has to live with a potentially silent killer and worry about the potential consequences of this despicable attack on himself, fellow officers, and of course his family.

“This kind of cowardly assault is particularly terrifying. On a daily basis, it is becoming more of a threat to every frontline officer as they patrol the streets to help the NHS and fight this virus.

“That is why we must have lengthy jail sentences for this type of awful attack. We need the courts to step up to the mark and support colleagues who are doing their level best to protect the public.”

The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales also urged magistrates and the judiciary to be consistent with sentencing. PFEW National Chair Mr Apter said: “Nothing is worse than being spat at or coughed in the face by an individual who says they want to infect you and your family with the most contagious of viruses.

“What is adding insult to injury is the different approaches in how it is sometimes dealt with by courts. Some are being sent to prison, which is where they absolutely deserve to be, whilst others are let off with nothing more than a slap on wrist. This sends completely the wrong message.”

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Man arrested for illegal fishing in Teifi valley

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A MAN has been arrested after environmental crime officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) spotted an illegal net in a mid-Wales river.

The officers were conducting a routine patrol of the River Teifi on Thursday (May 14) when they came across a net in the water.

Following an investigation carried out in partnership with Dyfed Powys Police, a man was arrested on suspicion of illegal fisheries offences in the Teifi valley.

At the scene, officers retrieved the net which contained seven dead sea trout.

David Lee, NRW’s North and Mid Wales Operations Team Leader, said:

“Thanks to the excellent work of our officers and Dyfed Powys Police we were able to prevent further damage to the Teifi sea trout population.

“We take any activity that threatens sea trout and salmon extremely seriously and this is especially true of illegal fishing.

“Nets can potentially capture large numbers of fish and given the current challenges facing stock numbers currently every sea trout or salmon taken represents another blow to our efforts to protect these iconic fish.”

Despite the current Coronavirus lockdown, NRW officers are continuing to patrol Welsh rivers and people are encouraged to check that fish they buy locally – particularly through social media – are from a legitimate source.

If you see any suspicious or illegal activity on our rivers please report it to the NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.

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Mother-daughter foot patrol brings 30 year career to a poignant end for Chief Inspector

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AS Chief Inspector Nicky Carter ended a 30 year career in policing, there was no better way to do it than going out on patrol with her daughter.

And for PCSO Charlotte, taking to the streets of Lampeter with her mum was a fitting way to mark her first six months at Dyfed-Powys Police.

Patrolling together in uniform was something the mother-daughter pair had long imagined, with PCSO Carter wanting to join the police from a young age.

The 19-year-old said: “I joined in September 2019, and have wanted to be a part of Dyfed-Powys Police since I can remember. I was inspired by my mum working in the force, and thought it would be a great career.

“I’m really glad I joined before she retired, as it gave us the opportunity to go out on foot patrol in the town where mum had been the local Inspector. It was really lovely.”

Embarking on a career she’d planned since childhood, PCSO Carter took the chance to gain valuable advice from her mum – whose experiences on the frontline inspired her to join.

“Mum has told me to always treat people as I would wish to be treated,” she said. “That’s something I’ll take forward with me.”

“I’m six months in now, and I enjoy dealing with the public and offering reassurance to people in the communities of Lampeter town and surrounding areas.”

For former CI Carter, the foot patrol drew a 30-year career – starting at North Wales Police – to a poignant close.

She ended her time at Dyfed-Powys Police in her home division of Ceredigion, transferring to Aberystwyth in 2006 to take up an inspector post.

Despite admitting there will be concerns for her only child as policing inevitably comes with risks, it was a career she encouraged.

She said: “I was very proud of Charlotte wishing to join Dyfed-Powys. As I retire I still consider that policing offers tremendous job satisfaction and I know that the organisation looks after and cares for its staff.

“I encouraged her to find out about the PCSO role before she applied, and also encouraged her to attend an open evening in Ceredigion to speak to staff. I wanted her to make an informed decision to join the organisation.

“As a parent and a former officer, it is natural to be concerned about what may occur when Charlotte is at work. However, the training, mentoring and support from staff and supervisors is second to none, so that offers me reassurance.”

Looking back at 30 years in policing, CI Carter has achieved plenty to inspire her daughter – and other women thinking of joining. From being a founding member of female networks in two forces, and a committee member of the British Association of Women in Policing, she has also proudly contributed to local and national work to ensure all staff reach their full potential.

She was humbled to receive a leadership award from Chwarae Teg in 2017, and represented chief officers at the International Association of Women Police awards in Alaska in 2019, where two Ceredigion officers were rewarded for their bravery.

When it comes to passing on her wealth of experience to her daughter, the former CI urged her to always consider her own wellbeing as well as that of the community.

“The most important advice I have given Charlotte is to look after herself and her wellbeing as whilst policing is a very rewarding role, it is one that can be both challenging and stressful at times,” she said.

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Ben Lake MP “disappointed” after Agriculture Bill amendment on the standard of food and agricultural imports is rejected by House of Commons

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The UK’s new Agriculture Bill was put before MPs on Wednesday (13 May) for the final time as it reached the Report Stage and Third Reading.

Alongside farming unions and campaign groups, Ben Lake MP has lobbied for the Bill to include a number of important amendments. One of the amendments sought to introduce a legal requirement that agricultural or food products imported into the UK under future trade agreements would need to be produced or processed according to equivalent animal health, welfare and environmental standards as those required of UK prodcuers.

This amendment, in the form of New Clause 2, and which was tabled by the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Neil Parish MP, was rejected by the Commons. All Plaid Cymru MPs supported the amendment and Ben Lake MP said he was “disappointed” that the house did not vote in favour of an amendment to prevent the importation of products produced to lower animal health and environmental standards, and which in turn would have supported the high standards of Welsh produce.

Ben Lake MP said:

“Without this amendment there remains no legal requirement for future UK trade agreements to ensure that any agricultural or food imports are produced to the same standards as those required of domestic producers.

“Farmers in Wales strive to produce quality food in a sustainable manner, but the failure to include this amendment to the Agriculture Bill risks undermining these efforts by keeping the door open to imports produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards.

“I have always argued that in order to protect our own high standards it is crucial that a level playing-field is maintained in relation to imports, and that farmers in Wales are not put at a disadvantage by having to compete with imports that are produced to lower standards. I sincerely hope that this amendment will be adopted by the House of Lords, so that the House of Commons has another opportunity to support it.”

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