Dyfed-Powys Police has remained “very active” across the force area despite the additional demands of policing an asylum seekers’ camp in Pembrokeshire, the police and crime commissioner has said.
Dafydd Llywelyn was responding to a question about the impact of the Penally camp from a member of the Dyfed Powys police and crime panel at a meeting on February 5.
Mr Llywelyn said policing on a daily basis involved officers moving from one area to another when demand called for it.
But he added that “we have seen an impact of Penally in some areas” because of the resources required, mainly at the beginning last autumn when protests and counter-protests took place.
The commissioner went on to say: “What I can confirm and give you assurance is that the police have been very active cross the force area, despite the fact that Penally has been an additional area.”
Find out about crime levels where you live:
A report before the panel said policing the temporary camp between September and the end of December last year had required 13,919 hours of officer time.
Men inside the former military barracks have protested about the conditions. Mr Llywelyn said he had visited it twice.
“My view is that the camp is unsuitable,” he said.
The Plaid Cymru commissioner said he’d asked Chris Philp, Minister for Immigration Compliance, about any closure plans when they met.
“Unfortunately he could not give me more information about that timetable but that it is a temporary arrangement,” he said.
Speaking last month, Mr Philp said it remained the Home Office’s intention to “move all individuals in contingency accommodation into suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical.”
The Home Office said it had agreed to provide £2.5 million of “special grant” funding to Dyfed-Powys Police to police the camp up to September, 2021. This money can only be drawn down once the total cost exceeds 1% of the force’s annual budget.
In Dyfed-Powys Police’s case, this means it would need to spend £1.12 million.
Sign up to the WalesOnline newsletter to receive our top stories straight to your inbox.
It takes just seconds to sign up – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions. You can also subscribe to tailored content for rugby, politics, Swansea, Newport, Cardiff City FC, Swansea City FC and more.
Changed your mind? There’s an ‘unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.
Members of the panel have resolved to write to Home Secretary Priti Patel, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse and MPs in the force area, calling on the Home Office to fully reimburse Dyfed-Powys Police for all Penally costs, even if they fall below the usual 1% threshold.
In response, Mr Philp said: “We continue to work closely in partnership with the police, local authority and other stakeholders, with a clear focus on the safety and well-being of both those accommodated at the site and local residents.
“We have already agreed to provide £2.5 million of special grant funding to Dyfed-Powys Police up to September, 2021.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said the 1% rule would not be applied if the force was to apply for a further special grant after September.
Meanwhile, a letter about Penally signed by six Welsh Liberal Democrat peers and Lib-Dem spokesperson for devolved affairs, Wendy Chamberlain MP, was delivered to the Home Office on February 8.
The letter called for the asylum seekers at the camp to be re-housed and for the Home Office to publish its assessments on the use of camps as soon as possible.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk