Inspector Phil O'Connell

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

A month has passed since my last update, but it seems like only yesterday I was telling you about all the great work in June 2019.

I promised then to feedback on the results of a youth engagement event at Cwmbran Centre for Young People (CCYP), where 21 agencies and local groups set up shop for the afternoon.  The event was aimed at 12-17 year olds in a bid to educate them around key issues of drug misuse, sexual health and inappropriate relationships with people who may look to exploit them.  Whilst this was not a police event, the coordination by Cwmbran Neighbourhood Policing Team helped to pull everyone together and ensure that the 83 children who did attend left better informed and with life skills to prevent them making choices which may have a detrimental impact on their lives and the lives of those around them.  We continue to work with the 21 agencies, gathering all feedback with a view to putting together a package of support moving forward. This is all part of a blended approach to prevent young people entering the criminal justice system, whilst dealing with those who do. We work closely with our partners in the Torfaen Council Community Safety Team to positively intervene at an early stage, so those on the periphery do not become drawn into crime and disorder.

This month, I was grateful to receive correspondence from a domestic abuse victim who thanked Gwent Police for “appointing such a caring and selfless PC” to investigate her report.  That Torfaen officer clearly took the time to sit down with the victim and explain what was going to take place, and ensured they were updated at every stage. The importance of keeping victims informed cannot be underestimated.  Not only does it improve people’s view of the service we provide, but it ensures people engage with and support our enquiries. Whilst there may be many competing demands on our time and resources, it is vital that our officers take the time to explain to victims what is going on and agree the method and frequency of contact. Plans are in place with Connect Gwent – the victim’s hub – to set up engagement panels involving Torfaen officers and victims of crime. We hope these will allow victims to explain how the crime made them feel and how our response was received. I envisage this being a two-way process, with merit for all involved – I am sure it will result in a more effective service. 

Carrying on the same theme of improving our service and ensuring we are effectively protecting and reassuring our Torfaen community, I travelled to South Wales Police this month to review their approach to neighbourhood policing. They returned the favour shortly afterwards. It was good to see that we impressed in our use of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Community Fund.  The fund aims to provide local not-for-profit organisations with grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 to prevent children and young people entering the criminal justice system or becoming victims of crime. Information can be found here. If you know of any local organisations which could benefit, please ask them to find out more. This funding has been put to good use in Torfaen, particularly in the case of the healthy relationships package from Regener8 Cymru. This venture delivered lessons to secondary school pupils in Torfaen on key issues such as domestic abuse, criminal exploitation and the dangers of sexting. The feedback from schools has been really positive and I am grateful to the organisation for assisting us in safeguarding and educating our young Torfaen residents.

Last month, I reported a crime spike affecting both Pontypool and Cwmbran in which sheds and outbuildings were being targeted. This was also reported in the South Wales Argus with some simple crime prevention advice included. Thanks to positive action on this front, we have seen a substantial reduction of almost 20% in this area of crime in a short time period. I am grateful to all of you who took on board my message to secure gates and windows. We will continue to focus on this crime spike, especially during the summer months where home security regrettably takes a back seat for some, so please continue to think about how vulnerable your premises are if you leave windows and doors unsecured. Help us to make Torfaen difficult for thieves to operate in.

This coming month, I have extended an invite to all of the Torfaen Borough councillors to meet for discussions about issues pertinent to Torfaen residents.  As an important liaison role between the community and statutory agencies, I hope we can strengthen our ties with councillors so concerns and incidents can continue to be promptly reported to us. This not only allows for a rapid response but also allows us to track when and where our demand and priority locations are – so resources can be directed to key areas at key times through analysis of our crime and disorder. I will be addressing what we have been focusing on in Torfaen, and how we work with our community groups and other key stakeholders, so the area is a safer place for all. 

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

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

Inspector Phil O'Connell