POLICE and crime commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn has said that he is “very content” with an “exponential increase” in domestic abuse and sexual violence incidents because it showed how the force was prioritising the criminal activity.
Dyfed-Powys Police commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn listed in a report the actions he and the force had undertaken to address violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
He told members of the Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel that a dedicated “vulnerability desk” had been set up in the force’s control room to help identify and risk assess domestic abuse at the earliest opportunity and ensure crimes were properly recorded.
“What we have seen as a result is an exponential increase in crime,” said Mr Llywelyn.
“Now it seems a bit perverse – but you have got a police and crime commissioner here who is very content and happy with the fact that we have got an increased level of crime recording in this instance.”
He said it demonstrated the force was tackling concerns about under-reporting and apathy among some victims.
“So I can sit here and assure you that it has been given the highest level of priority within the force in relation to domestic and sexual violence,” he said.
The Plaid Cymru commissioner said the challenge now was to try to stabilise this level of reporting and “ultimately reduce the harm to the family unit and wider community”.
Last year Government inspectors said Dyfed-Powys Police required improvement for protecting vulnerable people, including concerns about risk-assessing all domestic abuse incidents.
A separate inspection in 2018 identified under-recording of violent crime, in particular, domestic abuse, as a cause for concern.
Dyfed-Powys Police has increased supervision in this area after declaring domestic abuse one of its three core priorities.
Mr Llywelyn said officers were receiving extra training, and learning how perpetrators’ behaviour could be linked to adverse childhood experiences in their own youth.
A report in February this year said the service given by Dyfed-Powys Police to domestic abuse victims had markedly improved.
“We have traveled a lot of distance in the last two, three years,” said the commissioner. “I think there is still so much to do.”
He also told the panel he was lobbying health and Government officials about a lack of specialist therapy services for sexual abuse victims. A new network of sexual assault centres for adults and for children has been proposed across South West Wales.
The panel, which comprises councillors from Carmarthenshire, Powys, Pembrokeshire, and Ceredigion and co-opted members, thanked the commissioner for the report.
Helen Thomas said: “It is such vitally important work.”
Cllr Keith Evans commended the report but asked what was being done to speed up criminal investigations following a case this summer in which a judge said he could not jail two drug dealers from Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, because it had taken more than two years for the case to get to court.
Judge Geraint Walters condemned the “systematic failure” by Dyfed-Powys Police, which said afterward the delay was “not the level of service” is aimed for but that investigators had faced a number of difficulties.
Speaking at the crime panel meeting, Mr Llywelyn said the timeliness of investigations was a subject he had raised with the force.
But he said he’d been advised that changes to bail legislation had put additional pressure on police forces and that investigating officers were conscious of having all relevant evidence and information given recent examples of cases collapsing over disclosure issues.
He added: “Without knowing the detail of this particular case, too often it seems that people were being released under investigation for too long.”