New police task force to stop crime before it happens

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Plans have been unveiled for a new task force of 20 police officers to spearhead a crime prevention drive across North Wales.

The proposal is one of the final flagship programmes of the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, who recently revealed he will be standing down at the next election.

It’s part of a bold plan revealed by the Commissioner in his final precept-setting proposal for a 29p weekly increase.

The 5.14 per cent rise – around the cost of a Cadbury’s Freddo chocolate bar – will cost the average householder, in Band D of Council Tax, just £14.94 a year.

It is also in line with the Commissioner’s annual survey of the public which saw a significant percentage of respondents, 45 per cent, in favour of an increase of 27p a week or more.

Mr Jones will be seeking the backing of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel for the proposed increase at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, February 2.

It will help pay for the new Central Crime Prevention Hub to co-ordinate the work of regional teams in North Wales Police’s East, Central and West Areas (based in Llay, St Asaph and Caernarfon.

Mr Jones, a former police inspector, who will be retiring at the next election that’s currently scheduled for May, said: “The history of people in prison shows that the vast majority will have had traumatic experiences as children and we really need to focus on why and how to prevent that rather than on punishing them.

“It’s a culture change and police officers in North Wales are adapting very well and I’m very pleased to see them looking at offenders in a different way.

“A small proportion of offenders commit the vast majority of crime and if we can look at the causes in a different way and intervene earlier in their lives then that is better for them and for society.”

Mr Jones added: “The Prevention Hub really ties in with my priorities and with schemes like Checkpoint Cymru which aim to intercept people before they get caught up in the criminal justice system.

“This was we can address the root causes of criminal behaviour and stop the re-offending patterns.

Despite the recurring £33 million a year cuts inflicted on the force as a result of Conservative austerity cuts since 2010, North Wales Police had succeeded in identifying a further £2.9 million in savings to help bolster their programme for the next 12 months.

This will also include an ambitious two-way digital communications project to keep communities and their local policing teams in close contact.

Other projects will cover domestic violence, sexual abuse, modern slavery and delivering safer neighbourhoods and Mr Jones added: “We have had to produce this precept plan at an unprecedented time because of the pandemic which has disrupted almost all aspects of normal life.

“The officers, staff, specials and volunteers of North Wales Police have responded so positively to these extraordinary circumstances which have included the postponement of the 2020 Police and Crime Commissioner elections to May 6, 2021.

“Now is not the time to set new priorities for the Chief Constable and North Wales Police who quite rightly need to focus all of their efforts on responding to the current crisis while I have to ensure they have the resources to respond to the emergency.”