All Is Not Well In Dyfed Powys Police

I haven’t heard very much from them recently, so I stupidly assumed that all was well, but Dai from the Dyfed Powys Police and his girlfriend Bronwen from the canteen have both been on the phone moaning this week, and I have to say they have a very good reason to moan.

Officers and residents of Dyfed Powys have been expressing their concern about the possible loss of their nice shiny chopper.

Its base in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire is due to close in January next year, axed under planes by the National Police Air Service (NPAS).  Personally, I would expect any PCC to fight tooth and nail to save such a precious resource from the Tory axe.  Conservative Dyfed Powys PCC Christopher Salmon said he was “fighting for the best possible police air service”.  Following the decision by NPAS in February to cut the number of bases across England and Wales to 15, Mr Salmon publicly said it was “deeply disappointing”.

Towards the end of May Mr Salmon even replied to myself and others on Twitter with his response to the closure issue

Just three days ago he still appeared to be opposing the closure of Pembrey base;

But Plaid Cymru has accused Dyfed-Powys police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon of not doing enough to save it. Mr Salmon has been quoted as publicly stating that the closure of Pembrey base was “deeply disappointing”, but Freedom of Information request submitted by Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards and AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas requesting to see the minutes of the NPAS meeting seems to indicate something different.

Having seen his copy of the NPAS Strategic Board minutes, Mr Thomas said: “The residents of Dyfed- Powys will be left speechless by the explosive information contained in the NPAS strategic board minutes. Given his recent public statements it is almost inconceivable that the police commissioner was reluctant to oppose the loss of our dedicated police helicopter. Just six months ago the commissioner announced to huge fan fair that he had reached an agreement to secure the helicopter’s future. Three months later, however, he sat in a meeting having been confronted with a change in that agreement and yet the minutes suggest he didn’t put up one shred of opposition to losing the service that serves the people he is meant to represent.

“Ultimately, the commissioner needs to decide whether he is on the same side as public opinion and prepared to join the campaign to protect the helicopter or whether he is more concerned in appeasing his Tory colleagues who are slashing police budgets and centralising services.

“Christopher Salmon should consider a public apology for his woefully inadequate representation and come clean on whether backs the retention of the helicopter and base at Pembrey.”

On a separate occasion Mr Thomas is quoted as saying;

“The residents of Dyfed- Powys will be left speechless by the explosive information contained in the NPAS strategic board minutes. Given his recent public statements it is almost inconceivable that the police commissioner was reluctant to oppose the loss of our dedicated police helicopter. Just six months ago the commissioner announced to huge fan fair that he had reached an agreement to secure the helicopter’s future. Three months later, however, he sat in a meeting having been confronted with a change in that agreement and yet the minutes suggest he didn’t put up one shred of opposition to losing the service that serves the people he is meant to represent.
“Ultimately, the commissioner needs to decide whether he is on the same side as public opinion and prepared to join the campaign to protect the helicopter or whether he is more concerned in appeasing his Tory colleagues who are slashing police budgets and centralising services.
“Christopher Salmon should consider a public apology for his woefully inadequate representation and come clean on whether backs the retention of the helicopter and base at Pembrey.”

Mr Salmon’s immediate response seems to have been;

“Our written agreement with NPAS included the retention of Pembrey as an operating base. The proposal from NPAS to close the Pembrey base only emerged last week.

“It is a deeply disappointing development and I will fight to ensure the best possible service for the people of Dyfed Powys.”

Mr Salmon’s blog on the subject of helicopter coverage and his views on the subject can be read here.

Who’s telling the truth? I don’t know.  Dai and Blodwen don’t know and it seems that the residents of Dyfed Powys and their elected representatives don’t know.  There seems to be conflicting versions of the story and I for one am not privy to the truth.  What certainly hasn’t helped is the fact that NPAS do not appear to have published details of this FOI request or their response.

It is my understanding that FOI requests, and their responses, enter into the Public Domain, but several months later I can find no trace of ANY FOI requests to NPAS or the associated responses.  This just serves to cloud the issues and helps to hide the truth.

Whatever the truth is, the Public deserves to hear it.