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Dyfed-Powys Police urges communities to report stalking

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is making sure communities have the confidence to report stalking during National Stalking Awareness Week 2018.

Officers, PCSOs and specialist staff are raising awareness of stalking and harassment during National Stalking Awareness Week 2018, led by Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

They will be visiting stalking victims, offenders, partner agencies – including refuges – and hosting pop-up stalls out in their communities to raise awareness of stalking and the support available. This includes the national helpline and more localised support for victims and witnesses via Goleudy, a service provided by the Police and Crime Commissioner of Dyfed-Powys.

Stalking is repeated unwanted contact from one person to another, which demonstrates either a fixation or obsession and causes the victim to feel alarm, distress or fear of violence. It may involve personal contact but also via the phone, email, letter or social media.

Stalking behaviours could be as simple as rearranging garden furniture, sending unwanted gifts, loitering on the pavement outside their house or even calling social services to maliciously report ‘poor’ parenting.

The law to protect people from stalking in England and Wales is the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. It was amended in November 2012 to include ‘stalking’. Since that change, Dyfed-Powys Police has recorded 94 stalking crimes to date.

Detective Superintendent Anthony Griffiths, force lead for the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, said: “Stalking can have a huge emotional impact on victims affecting their self-esteem, self-confidence and feelings of safety.

“Statistics show victims may suffer up to 100 incidents before reporting the issue to police and we want victims to know that they can come to police sooner and will be taken seriously. They should never feel they are wasting our time or that they are over-reacting.

“It is also vitally important that our partner agencies, community groups and members of the public recognise the behaviours associated with stalking and know how to get help for victims.”

Taken in isolation, events might seem unremarkable. But in particular circumstances and with repetition, they take on a more sinister meaning.

Unwanted communications may include telephone calls, letters, emails, faxes, text messages, messages on social networking sites, graffiti or sending or leaving unsolicited gifts.

Unwanted intrusions include following, waiting for, spying on, approaching and going to a person’s home. A stalker may also order or cancel goods or services, make complaints (to legitimate bodies), damage property or follow and try to talk to you online (cyberstalking).

ADVICE FOR VICTIMS

  • Keep a record of what happened, where and when you were followed or telephoned, or when you received post or email messages.
  • Write down information as soon as possible when events are still fresh in your mind.
  • Tell the police if any neighbours or others saw or heard what happened.
  • Record how the suspect looked or sounded – try to include what they were wearing and the make, number plate of any involved car.
  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

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Santa dog parade raises money for Greenacres

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FRIARS VAULTS in Haverfordwest hosted a Santa dog parade to raise money for Greenacres Animal Rescue on the weekend.

The event, which took place on Sunday (Dec 9), included a catwalk for dogs, hunt for treats and a raffle.

The total amount raised on the night was £110 with a further £45.50 collected through the donation box.

The winner of the best-dressed Dog was Deb and Steve Bunston with Pip, in second place was Danielle Boswell with Badger and in third place was Caitlin Davies with Denzal.

Greenacres Animal Rescue said on their Facebook page: “A huge thank you to all at Friars vaults Haverfordwest & Jamie Sid Williams for holding the fabulous fancy dress pooch party yesterday.

“A very welcome £158.50 was raised for Greenacres. Thank you all”

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Legal advice about former councillor convicted of rape to be released

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THE COUNCIL’S legal advice relating to former councillor and convicted rapist Dai Boswell will be released into the public domain.

In a recorded vote at Thursday’s (Dec 13) Full Council meeting, 41 members voted in favour of the documents being released with just seven voting against.

Cllr Jacob Williams submitted a notice of motion calling for it to be made public and the matter was discussed by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee before coming back to council.

He stated that having seen the documents and providing sensitive information isn’t divulged, that the public has every right to see them.

Boswell was elected in 2017 but did not take up his seat for the first month and the council instructed legal advisor James Goudie QC to give his advice on the matter.

The Council spent over £2000 in doing so and had recommended that the information should not be released.

At Thursday’s meeting Cllr Brian Hall said: “On November 15, the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee discussed releasing instructions and evidence which was called for a month after the 2017 election.

“The leader made it clear at a meeting on July 26 that the instructions and advice would be made available to members. The council is now seeking general publication. The recommendation was that the instruction and advice should not be made available as Cllrs could view documents on a need to know basis in order to satisfy themselves in their councillor capacity.

“Two members spoke in support saying the documents contained matters of public interest and that it should be in the public domain.”

Cllr Jacob Williams added: “The legal advice seeking to be published relates to a period of time after Dai had been elected and before he was found guilty. The council were preventing him from taking his seat despite him not being charged.

“Well over £2000 was spent that the council hadn’t been made aware of. I did get it so that councillors were able to see that advice and what I read was a real eye-opener.

“The Monitoring Officers’ report objecting had a number of red herrings and straw men. She said it will create a precedent but I am not seeking to create that. This is just to release two specific documents.

“She also said that approving any request would open up a can of worms if the interest and advice was publicised and that anything that appears in the media would lead to the council conducting business with its hand behind its back.

“This is just this set of legal advice which reflects poorly on senior members of this authority. I am one of the most vocal councillors in opposing the whim of officers when they find themselves in a bind, they go to lawyers to get themselves out of a pickle. This has been a very expensive lesson.”

Cllr Michelle Bateman asked how many councillors had asked to see the legal advice and the Monitoring Officer Claire Jones said that just two had asked, one of which was Cllr Williams.

Cllr Mike Stoddart said: “The Monitoring Officer states that it is not advisable to proactively publish this but we are not proactively publishing. This has been dragged out by the notice of motion. This will be reactive.

He went on to say that there were occasions when the council should keep its advice close to its chest but said this was not one of those occasions.

The debate took a different turn when Cllr Mark Carter asked the leader if views expressed on social media bordered on ‘workplace bullying’ but Council Leader David Simpson said he was not a policeman and that he could not close down a Facebook page.

Cllr Mike Evans added: “I don’t want to see this advice but this is about the principle of whether the public should be allowed to see the advice. The officers are here to give us the whole picture and not the windows they wish us to look through.”

Monitoring Officer Claire Jones gave a lengthy speech about the possible publication of the documents stating that her recommendations to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were to do with responsible publication and that it was not to be done lightly.

Claire Jones added that Cllr Boswell’s appeal remains live and that there were still victims at the heart of this.

She went on to say that safeguarding was a matter for everyone and that her door was always open to members to come in and discuss issues and that due to the amount of social media interest it was moving towards the documents being in the public interest.

Cllr David Simpson said he was concerned that only two members had seen the advice and that others were discussing without having seen it.

Cllr Williams summed up saying that the speech the Monitoring Officer gave was one of the most ‘memorable’.

In the recorded vote 41 members voted in favour of the advice being released with seven voting against and six abstaining.

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New police recruit works first Christmas Day shift

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CHRISTMAS DAY is not a day off for Dyfed-Powys police officers and staff who are rostered to work.

PC 117 Damian Arthur will be working his first Christmas Day as a response officer In Tenby, and plans to celebrate with a family dinner before heading in to work for an evening shift.

“My shift is working evenings on Christmas Day. You know when you become a police officer that you might have to work on Christmas day. It is the nature of a frontline public service role. We are there to help keep our communities safe every day of the year.

“I am lucky really to be working the evening shift as I will be able to open the presents and have Christmas lunch with my family first. I will probably have eaten enough at lunchtime to take me through my evening shift!

“It will be normal policing duties of preventing crime and helping the public for us, although there are Christmas decorations up in the office for a bit of a festive feel.

“Our job is to ensure that if the public need help we are there to provide it, even if it is Christmas. It is business as usual.”

If you need police assistance over Christmas, call handlers will be available 24/7. Call 999 if there is an immediate threat to a person or property, or 101 to make a non-urgent report.

You can also email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk for slow-time, non-emergency queries or advice.

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