Cross-bor­der drugs ‘peaked’

Com­mis­sioner’s hope af­ter ac­tion

Llanelli Star - - FRONT PAGE - Richard Youle @Youle­Post 01792 545553 [email protected]­line.co.uk

THE cross-bor­der sup­ply of drugs into the Dyfed-Powys Po­lice area may have peaked for the time be­ing, the force’s po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner has said.

Dafydd Lly­we­lyn said the area had be­come “an in­hos­pitable place” for sup­pli­ers from or­gan­ised crime groups who im­ported Class A drugs into towns and com­mu­ni­ties.

He told Car­marthen­shire coun­cil­lors last week there had been around 300 ar­rests for pos­ses­sion with in­tent to sup­ply in 2017-18, com­pared to 200 a year or so pre­vi­ously.

Dis­rupt­ing the sup­ply of Class A drugs is a force pri­or­ity, and asked if he ex­pected the num­ber of ar­rests to keep ris­ing, Mr Lly­we­lyn replied: “I would ex­pect it to plateau at 300, and my de­sire is to see it re­duced.”

He said the high num­ber of ar­rests re­flected the force’s fo­cus on the is­sue.

“The whole point is to make Dyfed-Powys an in­hos­pitable place to deal drugs, and I think we are achiev­ing it,” he said. As part of one re­cent op­er­a­tion, a Birm­ing­ham- based group used vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple’s homes to sup­ply heroin and crack co­caine in Llanelli.

Po­lice forces every­where in the UK deal with this county lines phe­nom­e­non, and Mr Lly­we­lyn said the amount of ac­tiv­ity in Car­marthen­shire, Pem­brokeshire, Ceredi­gion and Powys re­mained rel­a­tively low. Dyfed-Powys Po­lice cur­rently has 1,930 staff, in­clud­ing 1,135 of­fi­cers and 148 com­mu­nity sup­port of­fi­cers.

Mr Lly­we­lyn said he had over­seen a 4% rise in per­son­nel since be­ing elected in 2016.

But a short­age of of­fi­cers and other staff in ru­ral north Powys has led to a re­cruit­ment drive of­fer­ing re­lo­ca­tion costs of up to £8,000. Ar­guably Mr Lly­we­lyn’s key pol­icy pledge was a roll­out of CCTV cam­eras in town cen­tres, and this project will be com­pleted dur­ing the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.

He said £2 mil­lion had been al­lo­cated to the roll­out but that the fi­nal bill, once the last re­main­ing cam­eras had been in­stalled in Lam­peter, Burry Port, Ystradg­yn­lais and Llw-yn­hendy, Llanelli, would be no more than £1.5 mil­lion.

Footage from the cam­eras is mon­i­tored at the force head­quar­ters near Car­marthen, and the Plaid Cymru com­mis­sioner said it was reg­u­larly be­ing used for ev­i­den­tial pur­poses.

Asked if there was a stan­dard way of mea­sur­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of CCTV cam­eras, Mr Lly­we­lyn said: “The an­swer is no. The im­pact of CCTV is dif­fi­cult to quan­tify.”

But he said their im­pact was felt by busi­nesses, while they also helped re­duce the public’s fear and per­cep­tion of crime.

Ear­lier this year, Mr Lly­we­lyn’s rec­om­mended 10.7% hike in the po­lice pre­cept was ap­proved by Dyfed-Powys Po­lice and Crime Panel.

The com­mis­sioner re­it­er­ated that of­fi­cer num­bers would have re­duced with­out it, and that he would rec­om­mend a fur­ther pre­cept rise next fi­nan­cial year if he had to.

The 42-year-old said po­lice forces did not know yet if more cen­tral Govern­ment fund­ing was com­ing next year, and he felt it was un­fair to ex­pect coun­cil tax­pay­ers to shoul­der an ever-ris­ing share of the bud­get.

Coun­cil tax­pay­ers will con­trib­ute £55.2 mil­lion to the bud­get this year through the pre­cept – just over half the en­tire bud­get – and the force has tar­geted sav­ings of £2.4 mil­lion.

“Coun­cil tax is a re­gres­sive tax – it’s not based on in­come,” said Mr Lly­we­lyn, al­though he was keen to point out that the Dyfed-Powys Po­lice pre­cept was still the low­est of Wales’s four forces.

Mean­while, money from the sale of the former Car­marthen po­lice sta­tion at Fri­ars Park is to be rein­vested in cap­i­tal projects.

Mr Lly­we­lyn said the force was still iden­ti­fy­ing a po­ten­tial site for a new cus­tody fa­cil­ity in Dafen, Llanelli.

The com­mis­sioner said there were no plans to close any sta­tions, and that he hoped a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of neigh­bour­hood polic­ing from Septem­ber would ad­dress in­con­sis­ten­cies in the ser­vice pro­vided by Dyfed-Powys Po­lice.

Mr Lly­we­lyn said he has al­lo­cated £180,000 per year for youth ser­vices in the four coun­ties, and would gather young peo­ple’s views and pri­or­i­ties via a youth fo­rum, cul­mi­nat­ing in an event next March.

‘‘ The whole point is to make Dyfed-Powys an in­hos­pitable place to deal drugs, and I think we are achiev­ing it

- Dyfed-Powys po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner Dafydd Lly­we­lyn

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