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TV series reveals the demand police face from missing people

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EVERY year, thousands of people are reported missing to Dyfed-Powys Police, and a new TV series is about to showcase the hard work and determination that goes in to finding them.

From people going missing under tragic circumstances, and those intent on not being found, to children skipping school, and even those who don’t realise they are missing – a range of cases will be featured in S4C series Ar Goll.

Handler at Force Control Centre

The series follows the work of call handlers and incident managers who deal with the initial response to missing people reports, to the policing teams that do all they can to find them and ensure they are safe.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “The work that goes on to find missing people is a huge demand on the force, and not one that many people are aware of.

A lot of the enquiries our staff and officers undertake go on behind the scenes, and there are a huge number of missing people who are found very quickly without the need for a public appeal for information.

“It is only in five per cent of all cases that we ask for the public’s help in locating someone who has been reported missing, so it is impossible for the public to truly comprehend how much of our resources are tied up looking for missing people.”

In 2018, call handlers in the force control centre took 3,030 calls from people reporting their family members, friends, colleagues and pupils missing. Many were found within minutes, while in other cases searches lasted days, weeks, and even months.

During the six-part series, ITV Wales’s production team was given access to different stages of missing people enquiries, shadowing police search advisor (POLSA) officers, dog handlers, NPAS helicopters, the marine unit and partner organisations including Coastguard, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and mountain rescue teams.

Police tape at scene

During the first episode, a rare insight is given into the workings of the control room at Dyfed-Powys Police headquarters in Carmarthen, where staff respond to 999 and 101 calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Film crews followed call handlers, dispatchers and incident managers as they directed policing teams to find two missing 10-year-old schoolboys in Llanelli. Last year, 185 young people were reported missing from education premises, and FCC staff admitted tensions were always high when children were missing.

Speaking in the first episode, Force Incident Manager Chief Inspector Dyfed Bolton said: “We have just had a call from a school in the Llanelli area to say that two pupils have jumped over the fence and have disappeared.

“With any call about a missing child, we need to look at their age – we are dealing with something different if it is a 15-year-old or an eight-year-old. Younger children might not realise how busy the roads can be, they might not know who they can trust to speak to, and they don’t always look at the risks when they are playing with no adults around.”

As time goes on, with no sign of the children, resources are drafted in from other areas, and the risk grading to the children is elevated to high. Concern rises for control room staff.

“The risk is that these children could become injured or come to some harm,” Chief Inspector Bolton said. “They could head somewhere to cool down, like a pond, so I’m asking officers to check those areas.

“It is always a tense time when young children are missing.”

From young people to the elderly, the series also follows the search for an 80-year-old woman with dementia who went missing from her home in Carmarthenshire, as well as enquiries lasting more than two weeks to trace a man who disappeared after getting on a bus.

Over six weeks, viewers will be taken through fast-pace searches, high-pressured decision-making, and will witness the frustration, relief and tragedy officers and staff are faced with daily.

Hearing from family members and even the people reported missing themselves, viewers will gain an understanding of the factors that lead people to disappear and the impact this has on their loved ones.

Ar Goll episode one will air on S4C at 9pm on Wednesday, February 27.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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