Inspector Damian Sowrey
A happy new year to everyone, and welcome to my first blog of 2019.
There are many exciting changes going on now, both for the police in Monmouthshire and for Gwent Police more widely, so I thought I would take this opportunity to update you on some of them.
We are in the final stages of closing Abergavenny Police Station, and you may well have noticed that the building is now boarded up, awaiting handover to the new owners in February. Policing has changed dramatically in recent years, and a building that was once required to accommodate numerous departments is now outdated and costly to maintain. Many policing functions, such as custody, have been centralised in order to provide safer conditions for staff and detainees alike and consequently much of the building is no longer in use.
Our estates department have been working in partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue service and a plan is in place to upgrade the fire station on Hereford Road over the next twelve to eighteen months, after which both services will be co-located. This collaborative approach will help to build better working relationships and will deliver significant cost savings in the future, and we are looking forward to working with our fire service colleagues.
We are not leaving Abergavenny, though – far from it. Our front counter service has relocated to the One Stop Shop in the Market Hall, where we are working alongside our colleagues from the local authority. This has been in place since October, and the feedback we have had so far has been positive. The local neighbourhood team will relocate to the fire station next week, and officers will still be on hand to respond to emergency calls, so we are still here to provide you with the best possible service that we can.
Gwent Police is currently undergoing a modernisation programme within digital services. This means that your officers have been issued with a new laptop computer and smartphone, with which they can access the systems they need whilst out on patrol. As such, there will be less need for them to work from police buildings and they can spend more time out in the community. I want my team to be as visible as possible, and I am encouraging them to use local businesses and public spaces to complete their work, so if you see someone in body armour enjoying a coffee in a local café you can be assured they will be working as well! Don’t be shy though – my staff are more than happy to talk about any issues you may have.
In the south of the county, I have just introduced a new team called the ‘Neighbourhood Enforcement Team’. I have done this in response to community concerns regarding the use of controlled drugs in the Chepstow and Caldicot areas. This team will adopt an intelligence led approach, and will work with colleagues and our partner agencies to deal with these issues and bring offenders to justice. If you have any information in relation to this or any other type of crime then please pick up the phone or drop us a line, and we will do the rest.
We have also recently introduced a Rural Crime Team to tackle rural, business and wildlife crime across Gwent, as part of a wider rural crime strategy. We recognise that this kind of crime has a huge financial impact upon the rural economy and is often committed by organised groups. This team is split into two halves – one for the West of the Force area, covering Torfaen and the Valleys, and the other for the East of the force covering Monmouthshire and Newport. I am pleased to report that the Eastern team will be based in Usk, right in the heart of Monmouthshire, where they will be best placed to deal with this type of crime. Again, please let us know if you have information regarding this type of crime and we will follow it up.
2019 promises to be a busy year, and I look forward to updating you as the months roll on…
All the best, Damian