Inspector Phil O'Connell

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

You may have seen the headlines of the co-ordinated force wide approach to tacking Serious and Organised Crime this month.  Torfaen was part of Operation Dynamic which looked to target known drug dealers in our area in order to disrupt the activity of our middle and upper tier drug dealers. 

I am pleased to say that 8 people were arrested and subsequently charged and remanded to court for a number of offences linked to the supply of Class A and B drugs.  It is important for us that we leave no safe space for these types of criminals to operate in Torfaen.

These warrants are the culmination of months of hard work and planning and disrupting drug supply with these overt tactics is only a part of what we need to do in order to prevent further offending. 

Our approach now sees us coordinating with a number of statutory and third sector agencies in order to divert people away from the trappings of the luxurious lifestyle that they see drug dealers living in their community.  Of course, as a Torfaen Community you all play a part in ensuring people who are living lavish lifestyles and beyond their means are not seen by some as something to aspire to. 

Only this month a Torfaen man was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison for dealing drugs to vulnerable people in our town centre.  The destructive nature of drug supply to a community is only too apparent and can have tragic consequences.  We also work with our partners and educational establishments to ensure that, in the lead up to any large scale operation, our already well established links are made even stronger to be able to support anyone affected by the consequences of removing some of our main offenders from circulation in the community. 

This side of policing is just as important as the disruptive tactics that usually grab the headlines and I feel that the approach and understanding of the partner agencies we work with, puts Torfaen residents in a safe environment and one where you can expect us all to contribute to these problems which affect all organisations.  

I was pleased to see the Cwmbran Community Councils Big Event went smoothly last month and the bad weather had a brief reprieve to ensure it wasn’t rained off.  I know a lot of you saw it as a good opportunity to engage with our neighbourhood team to share the issues affecting you. 

Blaenavon Town Council took on the responsibility of Blaenavon Heritage Day, which again was well attended by the community and the local policing team.  These events are something that the Neighbourhood teams look forward to and we really see it as an opportunity to discuss key issues that affect your communities.  Looking beyond that however, it was great to see the Community Councils stepping in this year to be able to provide an important event that is hotly anticipated in the annual calendar.  I am a firm believer that communities working together are a powerful force and the energy and enthusiasm of a number of local groups and individuals are important for us and our partners to be able to deliver key services for you all.

This month Torfaen County Borough Council took over enforcement of parking with their ‘Civil Parking Enforcement’ teams.  Whilst the Police are not absolved of all responsibility, the contravention of parking on double yellow lines has now been handed back to Torfaen Council. 

Gwent Police will continue to enforce those offences that result in penalty points:

  • All moving traffic offences.
  • Cases of obstruction to moving traffic such as yellow box junctions etc.
  • Dangerous parking.
  • Any endorsable parking offences.
  • Footway parking where no yellow lines are present.
  • Driving over footways.
  • Where security or other traffic policing issues are involved.

Our Your Voice priorities are now making good progress and the Neighbourhood team are working with the likes of the Torfaen Council Community Safety Team and local groups to affect the issues that you said affect you most.  If you think you could play a part in tackling any one of the following issues please contact either [email protected] or [email protected] with your contact details and which priority you would like to offer assistance with. 

The current priorities we are working towards finding a long lasting and positive outcome for are:

  • Youth disorder and Anti-Social Behaviour.  Broad Street, Blaenavon.
  • Vehicle Nuisance and youth disorder.  New Road, New Inn.
  • Youth Disorder and drug misuse.  North Walk/Northville Underpass, Cwmbran.

The work we do in connection with key agencies like the Health Service is now more apparent than ever and the fact that we now have Approved Mental Health Practitioners co-located in our Force Communication Suite is testament to the joined up approach to dealing with people in mental health crisis. 

These functions are key to assist officers make timely decisions when dealing with complex and often fast moving incidents.  Our relationship with hospitals offering mental health support in Torfaen has improved due to a huge increase of awareness and training for officers.  This has resulted in police officers being highly skilled to deal and assist with a number of different emergencies. 

Whilst we are far from the experts in dealing with these types of medical emergencies and the Aneurin Bevan Health board and Welsh Ambulance Service remain the first point of contact for people who are suffering from any mental health problems it is understood that there is often crossover where the skills and abilities of the Police are key to complement our blue light colleagues. 

Last month I spoke about a victim of domestic violence who had been subject of some horrific injuries. Officers from Torfaen secured a 4 year conviction for a separate man who had been violent towards his partner.  These types of incidents are very complex for us to deal with as there are often competing emotions from people involved in violent relationships.  I am confident that officers in Torfaen are well attuned to the risk that people are subjected to due to controlling and violent relationships they find themselves in. 

The force’s approach and commitment to protecting vulnerable members of our community is clear and co-location with Women’s Aid safe guard workers in our Force Communication suite only echoes the words of our advances into the world of dealing with mental health.  

Concerns have been raised with regard to an increase in shed and dwelling burglaries in the Abersychan and Panteg wards of Pontypool.   I want to assure you that we are working hard, patrolling these areas during key times and calling on assistance from specialist departments such as our Area Support Unit. 

Three arrests have taken place in the last month in order to tackle this crime spike. A plea to all Torfaen residents and business occupiers is to ensure that your premises are left locked and secured and valuables are not left in view.  We need to make Torfaen a difficult place for criminals to operate and small changes such as locking a shed that remains open or closing an accessible window makes all the difference to discourage offenders from making you a victim of their next crime.  

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