The Minister for National Security, Ben Wallace MP, has launched the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy in Wales.
A key part of the Strategy is a pilot programme to introduce Home Office-funded Community Coordinators in Gwent, Avon and Somerset, Merseyside, Bradford and Brighton.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent has also made additional funding available to commission services that work with children and young people who are at risk from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.
Mr Wallace said: “Serious and organised crime is the most damaging, and deadliest national security threat we face in the UK. It affects us all – from Colwyn Bay to Barry Island, serious and organised criminals operate across Wales. They are active just as much in the coastal towns and the rural villages, as they are in the cities.
“It is essential that we continue to invest in such works as the Newport Community Coordinators. That is why we were ambitious with this pilot, and, seeing the successes here, are continuing to invest in the programme.
“It is only by working together that we can be successful.”
Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “Serious and organised crime affects all communities across Wales and no single agency can resolve this problem on its own.
“To tackle it we need police, businesses, local authorities, the NHS, the third sector, schools and residents to work together. We need focused early intervention. We need community resilience.
“We are doing some trailblazing work here in Gwent that is already making a difference within our communities and I am confident that we can learn from this success and replicate it across Wales."
The Gwent Community Coordinator, Chief Inspector Paul Davies of Gwent Police, is working with St Giles Trust and Crimestoppers on a programme that is being delivered to all nine secondary schools in the city of Newport.
It helps to educate youngsters about the risk of SOC and encourage them to report concerns and has reached 5,400 pupils so far.
St Giles and Barnardo’s are also working with 26 children of secondary school age who have been identified as being at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime. St Giles provide intensive, specialist support with a peer-led approach. Barnardo’s offers tailored packages with opportunities such as sport through Positive Futures, gardening and art to divert the children away from a criminal lifestyle.
Chief Inspector Paul Davies said: “Serious and Organised Crime is a complex area, and prevention and early intervention are critical elements to the effective management of this threat.
“Supporting the most vulnerable in our communities – our children – along with partner organisations is a focal part of our work.”
Jane Hutt AM, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister and Chief Whip said: “I very much welcome the launch of the Serious Organised Crime Strategy in Wales.
“The Welsh Government is committed to making our country safer through joint action to tackle Serious Organised Crime and its adverse impact on communities and vulnerable people.”
Serious and organised crime is a complex and largely hidden problem affecting more UK citizens than any other national security threat. It is estimated to cost the UK at least £37 billion every year.
The new Strategy – which was first launched in London in November - sets out how the Government will build the UK’s defences against this threat, track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.