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Headteacher warns of dangers of legal highs

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PEMBS.TV have released a film on the rising phenomenon of the use and abuse of so called, ‘legal highs’. As a pre-curser to what will be an enlightening and in-depth TV report, The Herald can reveal some alarming facts about these seemingly ‘legal’ drugs and has an exclusive interview with a secondary school head teacher who has sent out a stark warning about the dangers of these substances, following a recent and frightening incident at the school in which he leads. 

In the film Pembs TV speak to a number of people directly involved in the sale, use and monitoring of this new and alarming trend. Legal highs are substances specifically designed and manufactured to replicate the effects users can get from some of the established illegal drugs, such as LSD, Cannabis and Cocaine. One local retailer has been clearly linked with the sale of these substances, Allsorts. Daryl Millar, of the Haverfordwest shop, made it clear to us that their shop operated a very strict policy of only selling ‘legal highs’ to over 18s, insinuating that if the drugs involved in the recent school incident had come from their store, it could not have been as a direct result of them selling the product to a minor. He went on to show us which were the most popular of the legal highs that they were retailing; one of which was Pandora’s Box that proved a popular sell whilst we were in the shop filming. Whilst he acknowledged their popularity, he made it clear they were intended for use as either plant food or incense burning (in the case of ‘Pandora’s Box’). What people did with it once they took it home he said he couldn’t say. When asked why, if they were legal, they were being sold from under the counter, as we witnessed, he explained that when openly displayed minors could see how much they were and price up opportunities to get them purchased, also saying that it meant addicts, or anyone to whom they weren’t comfortable selling, could be told they had none of these products in stock. Pembs TV also spoke with Dyfed-Powys Crime Commissioner, Christopher Salmon, who made clear his concerns and frustrations over the use and sale of these legal highs. He said whilst he wasn’t setting up any special units to deal with the problem, his officers were aware of the problem of street dealers buying these in bulk and selling to minors. He believed that neighbourhoods and local people held the key to the success of policing this by contacting their local officers and station if they saw such activity. He also made clear that though there were claims that these drugs were legal he pointed out that many could be laced or contaminated with other, restricted, and in some cases, class A substances. He also warned of the potency of these ‘highs’, saying in many cases they were much stronger than the drugs that were controlled or banned. He did, however, draw the line at legalising controlled drugs expressing his concern of the dangers those addictive drugs posed. Frank Ciccotti, head teacher of Pembroke School, spoke exclusively with The Herald about an incident that occurred on May 14 of this year in which several young people were involved in a drug taking incident that resulted in some of them being hospitalised. Mr Ciccotti described the sequence of events that led to the school’s awareness of the situation: “On May 14 a group of year 10/11 students (15-16 year olds) shared out a legal substance at lunchtime, near a wooded area at the top of the rugby field. It was reported by other pupils. We believe the drug was rolled into cigarettes and smoked. We were alerted by pupils in the area who were not part of it, and they pointed out that one pupil was unwell. “We are fortunate they were responsible and reported it to us, otherwise it could have been a very different day. They escorted the pupil to the office where I attended and decided straight away to call for an ambulance. We set about finding the remaining pupils involved, which was about ten; and of these two were affected. “The worst affected was an alarming case as he was grey in colour and was slipping in and out of consciousness and he looked very ill. Two other pupils had lost colour but were more lucid, and the others were just a bit silly. Ambulance crew insisted they all went to hospital and they knew what they had taken as they had seen the sachet. “There had been a fatality fairly recently so it was a matter of great concern. They also summoned the air ambulance as protocol, but it was deemed the worst affected could be taken by road. Fortunately, all were checked out and released later that day”. On what the substance was, he said he couldn’t say, as the police asked him not to as it was an ongoing investigation, though The Herald has been informed by a student of the school that they believe the drug was known as ‘Exodus Damnation’. Mr Ciccotti went on to talk about how these young people had obtained the drug, which are illegal for minors to purchase. “We believe the drug was purchased the evening before by one of the students from a young adult from a car in the area. They weren’t sold on site, and obviously the child who brought it in had a more severe punishment than the others. The danger with these legal highs is they are portable and easy to carry.” He gave this message to parents who may be concerned that such an incident could occur in a school. “I would say it can happen anywhere, no one can be complacent, at any school and anywhere children could have access to this so parents must stress the dangers to their children.” He also had this to say on how the school could instigate future measures to help prevent a repeat incident. “We have strengthened the PSE programme, and we also have a specialist drugs advisor. The police also did an assembly to stress they (these substances) may be legal but they are not safe. These are drugs produced by profiteers and they are marketed by the greedy and purchased by the naive. “These are sold as plant food and incense and maybe they are safe in those contexts, but not in the context of smoking or taken as pills. They are harmful substances and the effects are acute and even the marketing of these (and on the packaging) suggests they are taken in the presence of someone who is sober. Feed them to your plants but don’t put them in your body.” He finished with a simple message: “We need to be smarter as a nation about ‘legal highs’. They are substances that are harmful to health. In school they would be in a poisons cabinet. We need to prevent their open sale.” To watch the full interview with Mr Ciccotti, as well as those with our Crime Commissioner and Daryl Millar of Allsorts, watch out for the release of the film next week, as Pembs. TV lifts the lid on legal highs and their effects.

Check out the video here: http://pembs-herald.co.uk/video/

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Plaid’s Dafydd Llywelyn re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner

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THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed Powys Area has been announced.

Incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, has been re-elected for a second term.

The election was held Thursday, 06 May 2021, at the same time as the Senedd Cymru elections.

In order to follow all coronavirus regulations, the count for this election was held on Sunday, 09 May 2021.

The announcement was made in Ceredigion, at the Ysgol Bro Teifi, Llandysul.

Dafydd Llywelyn, was first elected as one of the two new Plaid Cymru PCCs during 2016’s election and is the PCC for Dyfed-Powys Police. 

The force covers over half the land mass of Wales and during the PCC elections had the highest turnout of all PCC elections at 49%.

Mr Llywelyn is a former Principal Intelligence Analyst and worked within Police Intelligence for many years before, in 2014, moving to Aberystwyth University to lecture on Criminology. His career has provided him with considerable insight into core policing issues as well as an understanding of what the public want from the service. He has pledged to reinvest in CCTV and prevention activities and has refused to appoint a deputy.

Standing against him were three other candidates – Jon Burns (Conservative); Philippa Thompson (Labour) and Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats).

The results for Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner’s elections were as follows:

1st Round

Jon Burns (Conservatives); 69,112

Dafydd Llywelyn (Plaid Cymru); 68208

Philippa Thompson (Labour): 48033

Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats) 17649

2nd Round

Jon Burns: 8209

Dafydd Llywelyn: 26280

This was the third time police and crime commissioner elections have been held. The election was originally due to take place in May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new PCC term begins on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.

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Counting underway following police and crime commissioner vote

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COUNTING is under way to find out who will be the four police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in Wales today (Sunday, May 9).

Polls were held on Thursday for South Wales Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, North Wales Police and Gwent Police alongside the Senedd election on Thursday (May 6).

With the exception of the North Wales Commissioner, all the incumbents are running again.  

The rules of the election are that unless a candidate gets more than 50% of votes in the first round of counting, then all but the top two candidates are eliminated from the election, and secondary votes on the ballot paper are then counted.

In Pembrokeshire the count is taking place for the Preseli constituency and the West Carmarthenshire and South Pembrokeshire constituency at the County Show Ground.

When will the news Commissioner be sworn in?

The swearing of the oath will also take place today, Sunday (May 9), and the elected Police and Crime Commissioner’s new term in office will start on May 13.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Declaration of Acceptance of Office) Order prescribes the form of words that the elected Police and Crime Commissioners will be required to declare before they take office,” said a PCC spokesperson.

“The term of a person elected as a PCC at an ordinary election begins on the seventh (calendar) day after the day of the poll, and ends with the sixth (calendar) day following the subsequent poll.

“The term for incumbent PCCs should cease on May 12, and the newly or re-elected PCC will commence in office on May 13.

What is a Police and Crime Commissioner?

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were elected In 40 force areas across England and Wales. Every force area is represented by a PCC, except Greater Manchester and London, where PCC responsibilities lie with the Mayor.

The role of the PCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for the totality of policing.

PCCs aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area.

PCCs have been elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.

PCCs ensure community needs are met as effectively as possible, and are improving local relationships through building confidence and restoring trust. They work in partnership across a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime.

Who are the candidates?

Standing again: Dafydd Llywelyn

The incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, was elected as one of the two new Plaid Cymru PCCs during 2016’s election and is the PCC for Dyfed-Powys Police. 

The force covers over half the land mass of Wales and during the PCC elections had the highest turnout of all PCC elections at 49%.

Hoping to be re-elected, Dafydd is a former Principal Intelligence Analyst and worked within Police Intelligence for many years before, in 2014, moving to Aberystwyth University to lecture on Criminology. His career has provided him with considerable insight into core policing issues as well as an understanding of what the public want from the service. He has pledged to reinvest in CCTV and prevention activities and has refused to appoint a deputy.

Standing against him are three other candidates – Jon Burns (Conservative); Philippa Thompson (Labour) and Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats).

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.

How the voting works

If there are more than two candidates, the Police and Crime Commissioner is elected under the supplementary vote system: 

  • A voter can vote for a first and second choice candidate they want to elect.
  • If a candidate obtains more than 50% of the first choice votes, they will be declared elected.
  • If no candidate obtains more than 50% of the first choice votes, all candidates except for those in first and second place are eliminated.
  • The ballot papers showing a first preference for one of the eliminated candidates are checked for their second preference.
  • Any second preference votes for the remaining two candidates are then added to their first preference votes and the candidate with the most votes is elected.

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Multiple RNLI lifeboats launched to aid yacht in distress

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THE NEW QUAY RNLI lifeboat has rescued a stricken yacht, with the casualty evacuated by helicopter. 

On Saturday (May 8) New Quay lifeboat ‘The Frank and Lena Clifford of Stourbridge’, was paged at 9.06am by HM Coastguard to search for a yacht in difficulty 10 miles west of Aberystwyth with two persons on board. 

The Mersey class lifeboat launched at 9.20am with seven volunteer crew members on board to search for the 9m vessel, which had travelled up from Pembrokeshire, in a moderate south-westerly wind. 

The yacht, on passage from Fishguard to Aberystwyth, was experiencing mechanical and communications problems, and had failed to berth in Aberystwyth marina due to the tide. The severely fatigued crew had raised the alarm by mobile phone when they realised they were in trouble, struggling with the winds and poor visibility.  

Daniel Potter, New Quay RNLI Coxswain said, “We proceeded to the position given but on arrival another position was given 10 miles further north, and then again 5 miles north east. We searched for over an hour for the vessel as they had become lost in the deteriorating weather conditions. Barmouth lifeboat was also requested to launch but stood down as we located the vessel.  

“When we located them, we had to act quickly as we found her close to shore and in danger of going aground on the reef near Tywyn. I had one opportunity and we took it, we set up a tow and pulled her into deeper water.  

“We then requested to launch Aberdyfi’s lifeboat to assist us with getting crew on board as we had concerns over the health and wellbeing of the stricken vessel’s crew. Two volunteer crew from Aberdyfi and one from New Quay boarded the yacht. They assessed the casualty and it was decided as a matter of urgency to evacuate one of them. We requested an immediate helicopter evacuation, and HM Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 arrived and transferred the casualty to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. 

“It was quite an ordeal for the yacht, but it wasn’t over as we had to get the last of the crew members and the boat to safety. Aberdyfi lifeboat then transferred another one of our crew onto the yacht when they took theirs off and returned to station, and we began the tow to Aberystwyth.  

“On approach to Aberystwyth we requested assistance from Aberystwyth lifeboat who launched and met us outside the harbour to transfer the tow into the marina, and to deliver us much needed supplies, fish and chips! 

“We then headed home and returned to New Quay by 6pm, nine hours after launching. It was a very long day in difficult conditions. However, it was a fantastic effort by everyone, and we want to say a big thank you to all lifeboats and crew involved, and the helicopter. It was an amazing team effort by all.” 

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Operations Manager added, “We would like to give our thanks to all the lifeboat stations involved. It was a great joint endeavour by Cardigan Bay lifeboat stations. The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea and our volunteer crew are on call 24/7. Remember if you find yourself or see anyone else in trouble at sea or on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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