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Drug deaths at their highest ever levels in Wales

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WELSH drug deaths are at their highest ever levels according to a new report by Public Health Wales, with deaths from drug poisoning having increased by 78 per cent over the last 10 years.

The report also highlights that drug deaths may be increasingly occurring in people using drugs on a recreational basis, with a rise in deaths involving cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA collectively accounting for 14 per cent of drug misuse deaths. These deaths tended to occur amongst younger people in their 20’s.

In a third of all drug deaths reviewed, ‘no known contact’ was reported between the deceased and any local health, social care or criminal justice services in the 12 months prior to death.

The report recommends action to influence the current legislative approach to drugs policy in the UK, as well as a medical amnesty policy to protect people seeking medical attention relating to drug poisonings.
Drug misuse deaths, a subset of drug poisoning deaths, have increased by 52 per cent over the last decade and by 12 per cent in the last year up from 185 deaths in 2017 to 208 in 2018 – with a current rate of 72 deaths per million population. Wales has the second highest rates of drug misuse deaths in England and Wales regions.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said:
“Drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue. One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths.

“Across Wales there are effective interventions in place to reduce premature drug deaths including specialist substance misuse services and, for opioid deaths, the provision of Take-Home Naloxone. However, expansion of the Naloxone programme will be required to ensure widespread access to this life-saving intervention. In addition it is vital that the range of people using drugs are able to make better use of services that can support them, and reduce their risk of harm and premature death.

“Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by, or experiencing difficulties with drugs be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware. Evidence is clear that seeking support early on can prevent escalation of problem use and dependency, however, fear of stigmatisation and social exclusion may be barriers to this. Consideration needs to be given to how this can be overcome in Wales to prevent future tragic deaths.”

As in previous years, opioids including heroin were involved in the just over half of drug misuse deaths reported in 2018. Poly-drug use, the use of other drugs including benzodiazepines and cocaine, was reported in 49 per cent.

In addition, there has been a more than four-fold increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last five years. In 2018, cocaine was recorded in 31 of deaths, representing 15 per cent of all drug misuse deaths.

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Carmarthenshire towns win two prestigious awards

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has congratulated two local town councils for their success in the One Voice Wales Awards.

Pembrey and Burry Port Council won the Best Community Engagement category for the multi channels of communication it has set up which enables the community to participate in any decisions the council takes. It was also recognised for the shadow forums set up in both primary and secondary schools to ensure the younger generation have a voice.

Kidwelly Town Council won the Best Devolution of Service or Asset Project category for acquiring ownership of Parc Stephens play area from Carmarthenshire County Council in 2019 as part of the asset transfer process. Since then it has increased accessibility and inclusivity for a wide age range of children and includes a sensory garden.

Carmarthen Town Council was highly commended in the Best Annual Report category.

One Voice Wales is recognised by Welsh Government as the national representative body for Community and Town Councils in Wales, providing a wide range of services to our 634 member councils representing approximately 8000 councillors.

This year’s awards ceremony has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths who is responsible for liasing with town and community councils said: “I’d like to congratulate Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council and Kidwelly Town Council on winning the awards. It just goes to show the great work being done across Carmarthenshire and more importantly how we are working with the communities to meet their needs. I’d also like to congratulate Carmarthen Town Council on the commendation.”

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Woman arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply

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AN AMMANFORD woman has been arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were on patrol in the Glanamman area on when they saw the woman driving a silver Peugeot away from them.

They were aware that the driver had no driver’s licence, and that she was suspected of being involved in supplying class A drugs in and around Ammanford.

Additional units made their way to her home, where the car was stopped. A search of the vehicle resulted in class A drugs being found, and she was arrested.

Further searches were carried out by the response team and dog unit. Around 16g of cocaine, some amphetamine, and some cannabis were found.

A 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply, possession and driving offences. The vehicle was also seized.

She has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Sergeant Walters said: “This was a very swift response to information relayed by colleagues who recognised the woman and were aware that she should not have been driving.

“Ammanford Neighbourhood Policing Team, response teams and the dog unit worked closely together to achieve a positive outcome.”

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Play equipment gifted to children with disabilities

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CHILDREN with disabilities in Carmarthenshire have been gifted play equipment by the county council during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 26 children are already making use of new play materials and outdoor equipment which are helping to maintain their health and well-being during the lockdown.

Items such as garden swing seats, paddling pools, tablets, sensory black out tents, trampolines are making a huge difference to them whilst staying at home.

It comes after funding was set aside for those identified by the council’s social workers or disability intervention staff as needing extra support, and subject to an assessment.

Anna Martin, whose son Finlay has benefited from a garden swing said: “Finlay has spent many an hour calmly swinging in the garden. It has been great for him to spend time with the family outdoors. Fin is like a ‘toddler’ and enjoys a cwtch and a nap so the fact that this turns into a bed has been a big hit! It has certainly perked him up during lockdown.”

Funds are still available and anyone who is supported by the council’s disability service can ask their support worker for an assessment.

The council’s executive board member for children’s services, Cllr Glynog Davies said: “The restrictions of the current lockdown have been a huge challenge for all families, but particularly for those with a child who is disabled or has autism. Our teams identified that for some families having extra play materials or outdoor play equipment could make a massive difference to children’s wellbeing. We established a process where staff from our specialist teams could assess if families would benefit from this type of help. We have been able to purchase and arrange delivery of a number of items so far and we’re delighted to see what a difference it has made.”

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