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Welshpool is drugs war front line

Created on 26/06/2019 @ 16:29
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

More resources to help the war on drugs are being invested in Newtown and Welshpool, it has been revealed.

They are the towns that Dyfed-Powys Police Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, believes “are in the front line” when it comes to trying to stop ‘County Lines’ gangs entering the area.

County Lines is the term used to explain organised exploitation of vulnerable people by drug gangs to expand their operations from cities to rural areas.

It was a topic of discussion at Powys County Council’s economy, residents, communities and governance scrutiny committee.

Mr Llywelyn said: “For me, trying to reduce the market is such an important point. The operation region activity is not a one off.

“It isn’t the case that now Op Regent is done and dusted that we can retire to the pub for a pint to celebrate. This is a constant battle and this is something that we are trying to safeguard our communities against.”

Mr Llywelyn added: “Welshpool and Newtown because of their closeness to urban areas like Wrexham, Manchester, Shrewsbury, Telford, is very much at the front line, and the reason why it has seen additional enforcement activity and funding through my office in recent months.

“It continues because we don’t want to see these organised crime groups getting a foothold in the Dyfed-Powys force area.

“We don’t want to see the drug related deaths or deaths and violence that comes with it. We have seen murders in North Wales and places not too far away, linked to County Lines.”

Newtown Cllr David Selby pointed out that there was still a problem to be coped with following the police operations.

He said: “One of the consequences of dealing with County Lines is that we have more people who have chaotic drug use. You tackle one element of the issue and create another.

“I’m well aware that the number of referrals to Kaleidoscope (drug and alcohol rehabilitation service) is dramatically larger than it was 12 months ago. We need look at it as a whole, rather than just dealing with the operation then we fail.”

Community Safety Partnership co-ordinator Fay Smith said: “Operation Regent as it was known was successful in removing people from out of county that were impacting us. Where would we be if we had not done that op?

“You look at other areas and you have knife crime increasing, murder happening. It did not get to that point thankfully but we were on the cusp. Yes, Kaleidoscope have seen an increase. But there are now very few people that Kaleidoscope are dealing with that they weren’t already aware of.”

Ms. Smith said that part of the success had been that the police had shared their knowledge at an early stage so that services could prepare for the aftermath.

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