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Police Commissioner welcomes impact of offender pilot scheme in Ceredigion

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AS PART of a recent Community Engagement Day in the county of Ceredigion, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn visited one of the County’s temporary emergency accommodation premises, made available as part of an Integrated Offender Management pilot project he has funded in the last year.

Over recent years there had been recognition by both Dyfed-Powys Probation and Dyfed-Powys Police, that the existing housing projects did not provide the best environment, or opportunity to rehabilitate many offenders.

Dafydd Llywelyn (Image: Herald)

Quite often, offenders may lose motivation and disengage from various support and interventions due to negative influences within their environment. Several offenders declined emergency housing options, preferring to remain homeless due to concerns around the negative factors often associated with some multi-occupancy projects.

In 2021, the Integrated Offender Management Team within Dyfed-Powys Police identified the need for a suitable, central, all year-round self-contained property in Ceredigion to be used as a short-term temporary emergency accommodation unit for placement of clients whilst alternative more suitable and long-term accommodation solutions were found. It was intended that placement would be on a licence basis for no more than 4 weeks at a time, thereby being readily available for continued use as the need arose.

On its first-year anniversary this month (April 2022), following an initial investment of £11,000 from Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, this Ceredigion based initiative appears to be leading the way in terms of targeting re-offending and crime prevention.

During his visit to one of the premises, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said, “The project has proved to be hugely beneficial to a number of offenders, all of whom had complex needs and were involved in a number of ‘neighbourhood’ type crimes.

“The current multi-occupancy style emergency accommodation doesn’t offer the same benefits as this pilot. Each of the offenders housed have stated this and were keen to move away from the peer pressure they encountered whilst living in such accommodation.

“The project has brought agencies together, with Police, HMPPS, Care Society and Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Services doing weekly home visits to the offenders. The work provided by all partners is intense, but provides the offender the focus to rehabilitate. To date, none of the offenders have gone on to commit further offending which is just one of the positives of this project.

“It is inevitable, that not all outcomes will be positive. However, by looking at individual outcomes of relevant offenders over the last year, along with feedback from partner agencies, I am confident and pleased to say that this pilot has proved to be a success.

Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Inspector Leon Lewis said; “Secure accommodation is widely seen as the stepping stone to long term rehabilitation. For many of the offenders that my team work with this isn’t possible. For some this could be down to previous behaviour preventing them from obtaining accommodation from typical sources. The result often sees them being placed in multi-occupancy buildings in busy town centres where there is often more temptation than support.

“The IOM Housing Project provides a better environment and opportunity to rehabilitate offenders. The robust multi-agency working offers support and motivation for offenders to rehabilitate. It offers them an opportunity of a place that they can call home, and although the design and use is temporary it allows the users the opportunity to show potential landlords that they are tenants of the future and are working towards rehabilitation.”

While the PCC visited the premises as part of a Community Engagement Day in Ceredigion recently, the occupier notified him that; “It has changed my life and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It has allowed me to have stability in my life, and has led to me getting a part-time job offer, that I hope will develop into something more permanent. It has given me access to support services and given me a different perspective of the Police.”

Following the success of the pilot scheme in Ceredigion, learning will be disseminated and discussed between Dyfed-Powys Police and Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, and consideration given to rolling out the initiative across other areas within the Dyfed-Powys Police area.

Offender X Case Study

Offender X came onto IOM almost immediately upon returning to Aberystwyth from his bail accommodation in Swansea after serving custodial sentence for Supply Class A.

Upon returning to Aberystwyth, Offender X was identified associating with other pro drug associates and reported himself that although he has lived primarily in South Ceredigion, he found a lot of old associates from the South of the County were in supported projects in Aberystwyth, and that he was struggling to break links to them because of their close association to him. This was affecting his mental health and emotional coping as he was struggling to stay motivated to address his drug misuse problems because of these close associations, and he knew this would impact on his ability to have access to his daughter who was taken into foster care.

Offender X tried to avoid these associates by spending as little time as he could in Aberystwyth, however found himself under enforcement action for Breach of his Licence as he would attempt to stay away to avoid associates and subsequently miss appointments. He received formal warnings for failure to reside where directed and failure to attend probation as instructed.

Joint agency meetings were undertaken with Dyfed-Powys Police IOM Officers, Social Services, DDAS and a prison charity called ‘Invisible Walls’. All were reporting that associates and accommodation were significant factors to his poor compliance, his negative drug test results, and his failure to reside where directed.

Given a shortage of suitable accommodation in the county both by the local authority and private sector, Offender X was going to be recalled to custody imminently which would have had a profound negative impact on his relationship with his daughter and his motivation to desist from drug misuse and obtain employment in the community.

The Police then explored the opportunity of the IOM Housing project with the IOM Team and Probation. Offender X was keen to engage with this and understood the consequences should he have failed to make changes in the IOM Housing Project or bring it into disrepute. On arrival Offender X quickly adapted to the property keeping the project clean and tidy and engaging with the services offered to him through the Ceredigion Care Society. There were no further records of Class A substance use on his drug testing results and his engagement with DDAS/ IOM / Probation improved significantly. His emotional wellbeing visibly improved and he stated this was because he was able to avoid associates and focus on looking for work and finding somewhere to live where his daughter could visit.

Offender X has successfully moved on from the IOM Housing Project and continues to engage with DDAS providing negative tests for Class A substances and his attendance with Probation and IOM remains good, he has explored different work options and remains working with supporting services, his contact with his daughter has improved and he is able to see progress to achieving his goals compared to that at the time he was living in Aberystwyth and is thankful for the support the IOM Housing Project has provided.

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Education

Free School Meals for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 from September 2022

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL will be offering Free School Meals from the Autumn term onwards to all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children.

This comes following Welsh Government’s announcement to offer Free School Meals for primary school pupils across Wales, starting with Reception classes from September 2022.

In response to the current rising cost-of-living, this is a positive step forward in ensuring that no child goes hungry while in school and tackling poverty in our County.

From Monday 5 September 2022 onwards, all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 Children in Ceredigion schools will be offered Free School Meals, extending the offer beyond what needs to be done by September.

Ceredigion County Council and Welsh Government are committed to implementing this scheme quickly and would ask for your patience as we build catering capacity to ensure a successful phased implementation and work towards a whole school roll-out over the next three years.

The Council are working with Welsh Government to develop a process for you to be able to request a free meal for your child/children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 from September 2022, trying to avoid any unnecessary burden for you.

If your child is currently in receipt of free school meals and/or any other associated benefits, these will not be affected.

Wyn Thomas, Cabinet Member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said: “The Government’s aim is for Welsh Local Authorities to provide a free school meal for Reception pupils in September 2022. The Council has taken advantage of the flexibility of the scheme and so more pupils in Ceredigion will benefit from the offer of a free meal for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils in September 2022 in the County’s schools.”

Further information will follow by the end of term.

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Residential care home project approved to increase dementia support

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A DEVELOPMENT project has been approved by Welsh Government that will increase support provided for individuals living with additional needs due to living with dementia at Hafan Deg Residential Care Home, Lampeter.

This project will include renovating four bedrooms, improved personal wellbeing and social area and a securely enclosed outdoor sensory garden.

Councillor Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Through Age and Wellbeing Services said: “The number of those living with dementia in Ceredigion is rising and we want to make sure that we increase our current provision. This new development at Hafan Deg will enhance the mental and physical wellbeing of both residents and staff and support a reduction in behaviours that challenge. The development will also help to reduce the numbers of residents needing to be moved due to their higher needs.”

Funding has been secured through the Welsh Government Integrated Care Fund Capital programme.

Through the tendering process, J&E Woodworks Ltd were awarded the tender and work is due to commence August 2022.

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News

New Quay RNLI crew member passes out as coxswain

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ON MONDAY (Jun 13), after many months of training and assessments, New Quay RNLI volunteer crew member Peter Yates passed out as a coxswain and is now qualified to take command of the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat based at New Quay Lifeboat Station in Ceredigion.

Father of two Pete, 33, underwent a year of intensive training, including courses at the RNLI College in Poole and assessments afloat and ashore at the station. On Monday he was put through his paces by RNLI Assessor Hugh Davies in his final assessment and passed with flying colours.

With 16 years of experience, Pete has given up much of his spare time to volunteer at New Quay Lifeboat Station and save lives at sea. In his many roles at the lifeboat station he is also an all-weather lifeboat mechanic, an inshore lifeboat helm and the station’s training assessor. Pete said, “It’s been a tough year but worth all the hard work. It was definitely a stressful final assessment as they throw every scenario at you from fire to emergency steering!

“I want to thank my partner Karis and the kids for their support at home, and of course I want to thank New Quay RNLI crew members for all their support, I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I am now looking forward to the challenge of being an all-weather lifeboat coxswain and welcoming the new Shannon class lifeboat in a couple of years.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “We all would like to congratulate Pete on his great achievement. He puts so much time into being a volunteer RNLI crew member, and now all his hard work has paid off. He thoroughly deserves being a coxswain. Well done Pete from all of us!”

Bernie Davies, New Quay RNLI mechanic added, “Only in the RNLI can you pass an assessment by driving a boat up the beach under emergency steering! Excellent work Pete.”

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