ON December 13 Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, co-chaired a Cross Partnership Prevention Summit with Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health and Chair of the Hywel Dda Area Planning Board. The event focussed on how agencies could work better together to improve service delivery and drive a more preventative approach to reducing the harms associated with substance misuse.

The key speakers in the summit included:

  • The head of substance misuse delivery for Welsh Government
  • The Wales manager for Crimestoppers, who have developed a Fearless youth service as part of Wales’ serious violence prevention programme
  • Pat Hudson from Anyone’s Child, an international network of families campaigning for Drug Policy Reform and improvement in treatment services following tragic instances of fatal overdoses

The group heard about the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and how these affect the wellbeing of our future generations. ACEs are stressful experiences occurring during childhood that directly harm a child or affect the environment in which they live. Evidence shows that experiences such as domestic violence, drugs and alcohol or parents who are incarcerated make children increasingly more likely to develop health-harming behaviours including substance misuse, violence or unintended teenage pregnancy.

Attendees were also told about the innovative, award winning research into drug detection and identification that is being undertaken in the pharmacological arena. This type of research is vital in understanding the complex nature of emerging new psychoactive substances and learning how to combat the harm caused.

Dafydd Llywelyn said: “There have been 24 drug related deaths in the Dyfed Powys area so far during 2019, with 22 deaths in 2017 and 20 in 2018. To date in 2019, Dyfed Powys Police have made 834 arrests for drug offences. Those numbers of deaths are far too high – and that is why it was crucial for me to co-chair this Cross Partnership Prevention Summit. I am passionate about driving a more preventative approach to tackling substance misuse. During the summit we were also given a very emotive presentation by a family who had lost a loved one to substance misuse. They set out what they believed would help others in that situation. Their story struck a chord with us all – and it bolstered our commitment even further to improve our service provision to reduce the harm and deaths from substance misuse.”

The key conclusions from the summit included the need to reduce the barriers posed by information sharing between agencies, the importance of partnership working and the desire for exploring new approaches to harm reduction. The Police and Crime Commissioner emphasised the need for reform, stating that we won’t change the concerning trend of increasing drug related deaths without significant reform of the entire legislative and regulatory approach to substances.

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