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Illegal off-roaders targeted after near misses with walkers at beauty spots

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POLICE are clamping down on illegal off-roaders in rural areas after a number of complaints and near misses with walkers over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police received several reports of off-road motorbikes being ridden illegally in Nant yr Arian forestry, near Aberystwyth, and Dyffryn Crawnon, near Brecon, on Sunday, July 19.

Among the reports were complaints of off-roaders riding recklessly on footpaths and biking trails, with near-misses leaving walkers concerned for the safety of visitors to the area.

Natural Resources Wales staff also reported wild campers leaving significant amounts of rubbish behind.

Aberystwyth Sergeant David Hawksworth said: “In response to these concerns, officers from Aberystwyth Response Team, Ceredigion Rural Crime Team and the Roads Policing Unit, in conjunction with staff from NRW, carried out a proactive operation to tackle the problem of illegal off-roading.

“During the course of the day, we located and dealt with more than 30 off road bikers, as well as a party of wild campers who were responsible for damage to the trail network and failing to dispose of refuse.

“This is an example of Dyfed Powys Police’s commitment to working with our partners to safeguard both visitors and residents, and to preserve our beautiful countryside for those who come to enjoy it.”

A multi-agency day of action also took place in Dyffryn Crawnon to disrupt illegal off-roading in the Brecon Beacons National Park following a number of complaints in recent months.

Breconshire Neighbourhood Policing Team and Powys Rural Crime Team worked with BBNP wardens, volunteers and NRW on Sunday, speaking with residents and visitors to highlight the issue.

Around 45 scramblers and off-road bikes, and two 4×4 vehicles were spotted in the area, and enforcement resulted in six warning being issued, as well as a small quantity of cannabis being seized.

Sgt Hawksworth said: “While we appreciate that people want to come and enjoy the beautiful countryside we’re lucky to police here in Dyfed-Powys, we ask that they respect the area and leave it as they found it.

“We’d like to remind all members of the public – both those who live in these areas, and who travel here – that antisocial behaviour, littering, and reckless or illegal use of off road vehicles will not be tolerated.

“We want everyone to enjoy the beautiful unspoilt environment safely, responsibly and lawfully, and as a result our officers will respond robustly to any reports of illegal or antisocial behaviour which damages the environment or threatens the safety or enjoyment of others.”

Andy Rendell, of Natural Resources Wales, said: “Now that travel restrictions have been eased across Wales, we are seeing an increase in visitor numbers at our sites.

“We’ve had to take special measures and carry out safety checks to be able to re-open to visitors. Riding motor vehicles on footpaths, bridleways and purpose built mountain bike trails is illegal, dangerous and unacceptable, so clamping down on illegal off-roaders is vitally important to make sure that our visitors can remain safe during their visit.

“Working with Dyfed-Powys Police, we were able to target specific hotspots and take proactive action, as well as issue reminders to people to respect the area, behave responsibly and help look after our beautiful countryside by disposing of their litter appropriately.

“This robust approach is also about protecting the environment, nature and wildlife on our sites. Illegal off-roading can damage those environments causing destruction that might take years to repair, if repair is possible at all.

“Please respect the Countryside Code; leave nothing behind you and treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

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Force decision to challenge inappropriate behaviour of officer the right one

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A DYFED-POWYS POLICE officer has been dismissed from his post with immediate effect, after the force challenged the previous finding of a conduct panel which would have enabled him to return to front line duties.

PC Simon England first appeared before an independent panel in April 2019, following reports of inappropriate sexual behaviour and comments towards colleagues and (indirectly) members of the public.

Following a judicial review into the 2019 hearing, this week PC England was brought before another panel, overseen by Legally Qualified Chair, Mrs Sally Olsen.

PC England fully admitted the alleged conduct in its entirety and accepted that it amounted to gross misconduct. However,  he did not believe that his conduct justified his dismissal from the force.

The Panel found that the behaviour in question amounted to serious breaches of the standards of professional behaviour relating to authority, respect and courtesy, equality and diversity and discreditable conduct, and was therefore dismissed with immediate effect. 

Following this second panel, Temporary Chief Constable Claire Parmenter said:

“Dyfed-Powys Police quite rightly expects the highest standards of professional behaviour from its officers and staff, as do the communities we serve and protect.

“The force cannot and will not tolerate behaviour of this kind. We will always take action to protect our officers, staff, and without question, the public.

“It is vital that we maintain public confidence in the force, and public confidence cannot be upheld by allowing individuals who behave in such a way to remain in the organisation.

“I am pleased to see that the seriousness of this matter has now been recognised and that the panel have judged this behaviour to amount to gross misconduct. This confirms that the decision to challenge the original conclusion via judicial review was absolutely the right one”.

Examples of the conduct in question include inappropriate touching of colleagues with sexual intent, inappropriate comments to colleagues about masturbation, and talk of specific sexual acts that he would wish to engage in with members of the public he had seen.

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New Quay RNLI search for unoccupied grey dinghy

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On Sunday night (25 July) New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was tasked by Milford Haven Coastguard to search for an unoccupied grey dinghy last seen near Cwmtydu, south of New Quay. 

The Audrey LJ lifeboat launched at 8.40pm with three volunteer crew members on board and made good speed down the coast.  

Dylan Price, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “On arrival the crew commenced searching and soon found a large blue and black inflatable. We were then tasked to carry out further searches for a grey boat between Cwmtydu and New Quay but on finding nothing else we were stood down and returned to station by 10pm. 

“Remember if you see anyone in trouble or find yourself in difficulty on the coast do not hesitate to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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Stand up for slowing down speed campaign launched

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INAPPROPRIATE speed contributes to around 11% of all injury collisions reported to the police, with 15% of collisions resulting in a serious injury and 24% of collisions resulting in fatalities.

Starting on the 26th July, the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) Speed Campaign will kick off across the UK, with GoSafe and the four Welsh Police Forces participating in both engaging with the public about the risks of speeding and enforcing the speed limits on the roads of Wales.

In 2019, 60,073 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued in Wales to drivers/riders for speeding.

Speeding is a major contributing factor to collisions on the roads of Wales. This includes both ‘excessive speed’, where the speed limit is exceeded, as well as driving or riding within the speed limit when this is too fast for the conditions at the time; for example, in poor weather, poor visibility or high pedestrian activity.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, we saw less traffic but higher speeds.  Now our restrictions are lifting, traffic volumes are up and as we are holidaying in the UK more, we are seeing more people speeding on the roads in Wales.  We want to change this, but can only do that with your help.

 Over the next few weeks you will see an increased presence on the road network of Wales as we aim to keep all road users safe and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

 We know that the majority of road users comply with the speed limit; but the minority of those who do not increases the risk to the safety of all road users and need to be educated on the risks to their own safety as well as to the safety of those around them. Throughout this campaign, GoSafe and our partners in the Police and Local Authorities will encourage and educate more people to reduce their speed to save lives.

Teresa Ciano, GoSafe Partnership Manager said: “GoSafe enforce at sites across Wales in order to encourage motorists to comply with the speed limits and in turn make our roads and communities safer for everyone. If we all play our part and stand up for slowing down we can make a difference, and we can save lives on the roads of Wales.”

Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change said: “I am very pleased to support this campaign. Driving at high speeds costs lives and a greater police presence on our roads will mean motorists will be more likely to drive within the speed limits, protecting lives and avoiding a speeding fine.”

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