Wales

Austerity means police must 'think differently' - Pam Kelly

Pam Kelly
Image caption Pam Kelly says building strong relationships with young people could reduce crime

Austerity measures mean police have to think differently, the chief constable of Gwent Police has said.

Pam Kelly said time and effort needs to go into preventing crime - because the cost of reacting to it is too great.

Speaking at the Berea Mosque in Blaina, Ms Kelly said building strong relationships with children and young people could lead to a long-term reduction in crime.

The Home Office said it was putting 20,000 extra officers on the streets.

"In the first wave of this unprecedented uplift, Gwent Police will be able to recruit 62 additional officers - a 5% increase - by the end of March 2021," a spokeswoman said.

"We are also steering young people away from committing crime in the first place by investing in early intervention projects."

Ms Kelly said the main priority would always be to respond to crime, but the community must "build resilient adults" to improve community safety.

She spoke as 10 children were sworn in as the newest members of Gwent's Mini Police (Heddlu Bach) force - the first in Wales to be attached to a mosque rather than a school.

Nearly 1,000 children from 49 primary schools are taking part in the scheme, introduced two years ago. They have a uniform and work with police officers on issues ranging from road safety to anti-social behaviour.

'Build resilient adults'

"We cannot keep reacting to crime and just dealing with offenders," Ms Kelly said.

"What we need to do is try to prevent that crime from happening in the future and if we get to know young people in our community, if we understand some of the issues they're facing, it means we can work with them to prevent young people getting involved in criminality.

"That's the whole point of Heddlu Bach, building for the future, trying to prevent crime in the future but making sure young people feel safe in their communities."

Image caption The "mini police" wear a uniform and work with officers
Image caption The newest members of Gwent's Mini Police force

Last year Gwent Police rolled out Operation Encompass - informing schools within hours if a pupil has witnessed domestic violence so they can be supported.

Ms Kelly said: "Children - if they're in school - may suffer bullying, may have tough times at home, they may have tough times their communities.

"To me, if we can make sure the child knows a community is around them, then we will build resilient adults who know where to seek help from in the future and I sincerely hope that has an impact on community safety and reducing crime."

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