Inspector Phil O'Connell

Your latest Blog from your local Inspector, Phil O'Connell, who covers the Cwmbran and Pontypool area.

February has been and gone.  I feel like the shorter month should have been a more manageable time for us but we have seen high levels of demand and a number of complex incidents that have kept us busy.

During February half term, Cwmbran Neighbourhood team held a ‘Crime and consequences’ event with a number of local youths and their parents this month.  Our aim was to highlight how anti-social behaviour in and around Cwmbran Town Centre, had a profound effect on the wider population visiting the area.  A member of the community kindly gave their time up to talk about how their child had been upset by the behaviour of a small minority of people, which I know was a sobering moment for a number of the children involved in the process.

This event was not a one off and the team have more planned, working collaboratively with the staff from Cwmbran Shopping and Torfaen Council Community Safety Team. We want to stop anti-social behaviour in the town and change the mind set of those who are intent on causing mischief at the expense of others enjoyment.

The proactive work carried out by us hasn’t slowed this month; I know a number of my last blogs have mentioned serious and organised crime and touched upon ‘County Lines’.  I understand this can feel like a remote subject for our communities as it is not easily seen and the harm caused cannot be easily quantified.  This is something we refer to as the hidden harm caused and if left unchecked it can become so entrenched that it will become part of the culture within communities.  As part of our work to prevent this we have continued carrying out warrants and a recent drugs search resulted in the seizure of a quantity of drugs and an estimated £20,000 cash recovered.  This resulted in the arrest of two people and there have been further searches in the South Wales Police area.

I have said it before but my aim is to make Torfaen a difficult place for these organised criminals to operate and this approach plays a massive part in achieving this.  Please continue to share any information you have on criminality in your area, either directly to Gwent Police or to Crimestoppers.

In February, officers from Torfaen were part of an inspection from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.  We are often inspected by the HMIC and the current theme is around checking our response to our vulnerable sections of Gwent.  You may have seen a social media post that went out from me this month about the concerns around children and their social media apps.

I would encourage all parents and guardians to  check on the content of their children’s phones and social media pages.  Often children can be naïve to the risks they put themselves in by accepting friend requests from unknown people or sharing content which is sexually explicit, or otherwise illegal.  Not only does this raise safety concerns it could result in criminal offences being committed.  If you missed my post please take a look at our Gwent Police Facebook Page.

Officers from Blaenavon have continued to work tirelessly in response to community concerns over Anti-Social Behaviour.  We were encouraged to see a great turn out from the business community at one of our Police Surgeries.  These surgeries are held periodically, to allow members of the public to raise any concerns or indeed, share any positive feedback about the difference we are making.

I am confident that the working relationship with the local borough councillors and town council, along with youth provisions in the area will continue to improve the location and promote the great community spirit.  The Blaenavon Mini Police will be representing the force at the local derby between Blaenavon and Brynmawr RFC later in the month; please come and show your support for the community where you will get the chance to speak to the local Neighbourhood team at the same time.

With all the talk of the rugby, it is great to see the Welsh team taking the Six Nations by storm and putting a great performance in against England.  During these key dates we have extra resources working to deal with the extra calls that come our way.  Recently officers dealt with an assault, resulting in a man being left with serious facial injuries.  The investigative work by Torfaen Response and Criminal Investigation Department led to the early arrest of a local man.  Following interview he was charged with causing Grievous Bodily Harm and was remanded to court the next day.  We have excellent working relationships between our departments in Torfaen and collaborate on a wide range of different incidents.  Our relationship between the teams has been strengthened by a rolling education programme for new recruits which has provided our newer staff with enhanced skills that they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to learn so early on in their career.

Thanks for all of your support everyone.  I will catch up with you later in the month.

For daily updates, follow my teams on Twitter @gpcwmbran @gppontypool

You can also email me any policing issues in your community philip.O'[email protected]

Inspector Phil O'Connell