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Crime Commissioner welcomes removal of asylum seekers from Penally Camp

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POLICE and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Dafydd Llywelyn says he welcomes this week’s news that the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has begun an inspection of the use of hotels and barracks as contingency asylum accommodation, which includes the Penally Camp in Pembrokeshire.

The number of users in Penally Camp is down to less than half the peak numbers, with around four asylum seekers a week so far being moved out to alternative accommodation by the Home Office.

The gradual move of residents follows the statement by Immigration Minister Chris Philp that it is intended to move all the men from the camp into ‘suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical’. Some 115 men are understood to be currently living in the former Ministry of Defence facility.

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn has been calling for an independent inspection of the camp for weeks, following recent protests held by individuals from the camp, and met with David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration earlier in January to discuss his concerns.

Against Penally plans: Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “I welcome today’s news that the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has begun an inspection. I have seen first-hand the difficult circumstances encountered by individuals that are residing at the centre, and on the 5th of January, I met with David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration, who reassured me that an independent inspection of the Centre would take place in the near future.

“This will be a welcomed relief not only to residents of the local community, but also for the individuals who have been residing at the camp”.

The inspection will examine the use made of hotels and other forms of contingency asylum accommodation, including Penally Camp and Napier Barracks, since the beginning of 2020. It will focus on the roles and responsibilities of the Home Office and the accommodation service providers, and also communication between the Home Office and stakeholders such as local authorities, health services, police forces, who PCC Dafydd Llywelyn has criticised on several occasions.

The cost of policing the camp has been higher than expected, running into millions of pounds (Pic Herald)

PCC Dafydd Llywelyn said; “The lack of strategic planning around the use of the Penally camp since September 2020, as well as the lack of community engagement has been extremely frustrating. This has led to unnecessary pressure being put on local resources at a time, when we are trying to protect our communities from a global pandemic. As a result, I’m pleased that the inspection will include a focus on communication between the Home Office and stakeholders.

PCC Llywelyn has actively been involved in ensuring adequate resources and planning is in place within Dyfed Powys Police since September 2020, and has confirmed that he is pushing for additional funding from the Home Office to support local resources that have been put under pressure as a result of the decision to utilise the camp as an asylum centre.

ICIBI is inviting anyone with relevant knowledge or experience of the Home Office’s contingency asylum accommodation to submit their evidence to chiefinspector@icibi.gov.uk. The call for evidence will remain open for four weeks, until 19 February 2021.

At a virtual press conference on Thursday (Jan 28) a in english speaking former resident said that the representative who visited the camp this week was unable to give him satisfactory answers. He said that the Government’s primary excuse is “Covid [to] all questions”

Speaking at the same meeting, sometimes Herald correspondent Vicky Moller, who is amongst many Pembrokeshire residents who are offering support to the asylum seekers, said that there had been offers of alternative accommodation in the county, but ‘we are just ignored’.

“We could do it so much more intelligently and humanely – there is so much generosity locally”, she said.

 

Police and protestors in stand off in Penally in 2020 (Pic: Herald)

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Postmaster and politicians welcome Goodwick cash machine U-turn

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GOODWICK post office will now be keeping its ATM, after a U-turn by Post Office Ltd.

The machine was due to be removed within months with the post master, Jon Moverley saying that it would be a disaster for the village.

If the ATM had been removed, there would have been just two 24-hour ATMs serving the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the short term and three when the Co-op renovations are completed.

Both politicians and local residents then got behind the campaign to keep the ATM

Pembrokeshire politicians Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb have welcomed the news that Goodwick post office is now set to keep its ATM facility. Following representations made by both politicians to the Post Office, it’s now been confirmed that Goodwick Post Office will be included in the rollout of ATM machines across the post office network.

Mr Davies said “This is really welcome news. I’m pleased that the Post Office has listened to the representations made by the local community and decided to retain the ATM at Goodwick post office. The facility is so important for local people and businesses and it’s great that that’s been recognised and the Post Office has committed to keeping it.”

Following the Post Office’s decision to invest in Goodwick’s ATM rather than remove it, Stephen Crabb MP, who campaigned for the ATM to stay, commented: “It’s great news that the Post Office has overturned its own decision and will be keeping an ATM machine in Goodwick.

“Access to cash continues to be incredibly important for a number of people and businesses and I’m pleased to have played my part in working with John from the Post Office in Goodwick, Paul Davies MS and the wider community to highlight the ATMs importance to the area. It shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

The postmaster described the news as ‘brilliant’. Mr Moverley thanked supporters.

He said “Many thanks to all of you who have used the machine and complained to POL about the removal. We were also supported by our MP, MS and mayor, the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and our Chamber of Trade.

“Everyone did their bit, and it says an enormous amount about the strength of the community.

“We are delighted that locals and so many other people have come together to save this essential facility in the village.”

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