As we head into the festive period there has been quite a focus on policing nationally, and the police service is under greater scrutiny than ever. While this can be uncomfortable, it is only right that the police service is held to account and provides an excellent service. Transparency and integrity are vital to maintaining public confidence.
In November, Dyfed-Powys Police implemented changes to the way we handle investigations. Two dedicated teams have been set up to help us improve our investigative standards, update victims more regularly and help reduce demand on frontline teams. As a result, officers’ roles are clearer: freeing them up to focus on attending incidents, responding to community issues and proactively policing our streets. We continue to be visible in our communities, with the ultimate aim of response officers spending more time on proactive policing work than they do currently. Neighbourhood Policing, Roads Policing and dedicated Rural Crime teams remain integral to our overall service. The last 18 months have shown us that we can change how we work without reducing the quality of service we provide. During the pandemic it became clear that remote investigations could play an important role in this, enabling us to better manage demand and do an even better job for victims. On a local level, Powys management have been meeting with local councils and other partners to explain the changes, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. As with any change to the way we work, the new model is being closely monitored and adapted as necessary.
We have also had successes that are worthy of note. On the 29th October Simon Lester and Michael Evans appeared for sentencing in Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court following charges of multiple burglary and handling stolen goods offences. The judge sentenced Evans to two years’ imprisonment for burglary and sentenced Lester to one year’s imprisonment for handling stolen goods. These offences date back to 2019 when South Powys was plagued with rural thefts. Thanks to the work of Sergeant Songhurst and colleagues under Operation Maple, the offences have significantly reduced – but have not gone away entirely. This investigation saw the use of mobile phone evidence and radio frequency surveys used in evidence to plot the movements of suspects. Cross border operations with neighbouring police forces and information sharing continues to target travelling criminals.
A violent crime incident on the 3rd December in Brecon town centre was brought to a speedy halt with the arrest of two suspects. The males were arrested within 10 minutes of a 999 call being made. Both males were released on conditional bail and evidence continues to be gathered in respect of offences of possession of a bladed article and serious public disorder offences.
Dyfed-Powys Police recently celebrated its annual awards ceremony and we are proud that South Powys officers and staff won two categories. Volunteer of the year went to Mr Lee Davies for his dedication to the Community Speedwatch initiative and volunteering in the community; this is on top of a recent award he received earlier in the year from Brecon Town Council, again for selfless volunteering.
It has been good to see that the summer demand has ebbed a little, allowing officers to get on with their enquiries and fulfil court upgrade work, but we are of course into the busy festive period now.
As we enter the festive season it is important that we exercise caution and look after each other. Violent crime often correlates with alcohol consumption, and countless lives have been lost over the years to drink driving. The 1st December saw the month-long winter drink and drug driving campaign kick-off and we have already seen compelling results across South Powys. Alcohol impairs judgement therefore we must consider if we need to drive before we begin drinking alcohol, whether we’re staying in or heading out for the evening.
As we move towards the Christmas holidays in these unsettling times, I hope that you have a safe and happy Christmas. For shift workers and their families, it might have to be an early or belated celebration, however the most important thing is spending time with friends and family.