Last week (Friday 7th September), South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, joined Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP, Gerald Jones, to host a policing and community safety advice surgery.
The surgery saw a number of residents attend, with one of the main concerns being the non-emergency phone line, 101. Many have reported that, when trying to use the service, they have been waiting for an excessively long time to get through to an operator.
Recent figures obtained by BBC Wales show that since 2013, the number of calls to 101 that have been abandoned by callers has risen across the four police forces across Wales. However, the number of dropped calls in the South Wales Police area is not as high as those to Gwent and Dyfed-Powys Police forces.
Following the advice surgery, Gerald and Alun also met with Police Youth Volunteers in Merthyr Tydfil Police Station. The Police Youth Volunteers programme is open to all those in South Wales aged between 13 and 18 years, and involves a volunteering commitment of at least 3 hours volunteering a month. The Police Youth Volunteers also partake in various trips and activities, including cricket tournaments at the SSE Swalec in Cardiff, sailing trips to and around Cardiff Bay and visits to Margam Park.
The meeting also included a Q+A, with questions on Brexit and the impact of leaving the EU on policing, Gerald’s role as an MP, and the Police Service Parliamentary Scheme, which Gerald has recently graduated from.
The scheme requires MPs and Peers to complete a number of days shadowing police officers. As part of this, Gerald has spent time with Metropolitan, Gwent and South Wales Police force response teams and Special Constables in the Met, covering early, late and night shifts, visits to Gwent and South Wales Police control rooms, South Wales Dog and Mounted Section in Bridgend, and the Gwent and South Wales Police joint forensic unit in Cardiff.
Gerald Jones MP said:
“I am really grateful to Alun for coming to Merthyr Tydfil to meet with local residents to hear their concerns directly. This was an important opportunity for constituents to raise their issues directly with the Commissioner, and I will continue to work with Alun to ensure our community in Merthyr Tydfil is a safe place to be.
“Since being elected, I have worked to build close relationships with South Wales Police and Gwent Police forces, and have raised the issues of police cuts numerous times in Parliament. I have also been privileged to have spent shifts with officers in both Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, seeing first-hand their dedication and excellent work they are doing to keep our communities safe, despite the ever diminishing resources.
“While many have complained about the 101 waiting times, it is important to remember that our Police officers are working extremely hard to keep residents safe in very difficult circumstances. Since 2010 the Tories have slashed 21,000 police officers from our communities. In that same time, crime rates have risen dramatically. Cutting police officer numbers as the Tory UK Government has done has been nothing short of reckless. Cuts have consequences and the Tories need to realise that they failing in their duty to protect the public.”