Top cop in unity plea over drugs
A UNITED community approach is the solution to fixing drug misuse in Llanelli, a Dyfed-Powys Chief Inspector believes.
Chief Inspector Steve Cockwell and Rhys Sinnett of Public Health Wales discussed Llanelli's drug problem.
With recent TV documentaries on mephedrone causing uproar among Llanelli residents, Mr Cockwell has backed the community's anger.
Mr Cockwell and Mr Sinnett each talked of the need for the police, health associations, and the community itself to work together in grinding down drugs in the town.
"You could probably make these programmes in any area of Wales," Mr Cockwell said.
"It was a negative story, but let's not raise fears among people," he added.
''Let's not heighten them about what is the reality of it all."
The Chief Inspector, who served as a Detective Inspector during the drug's rise to popularity, said that the documentaries had been based on old statistics.
He said: "The publicity is due to the statistics alone without context, and Llanelli has been given an unfair reputation.
"I'm not saying that Llanelli is not affected by drugs — it is the same as any town or city."
He urged people not to concentrate on the negatives of the town, but instead on the support and the desire to alleviate drug misuse problems.
"I think it's good that people are out talking about it, because people will be looking at what their children or members of their family are doing," he said.
Mr Sinnett shared Mr Cockwell's view, stressing the importance of education.
He said: "We all want to protect our children and young people as much as possible.
"We believe the best way of protecting them is to have this discussion.
''We can't ignore these issues, we have to tackle them head on," he added.
Children from the age of five are now receiving drug education.
But Mr Cockwell made it clear that this would be more of a warning of what dangers are "under the sink" rather than insight into illegal drugs.
"In the Llanelli area, 165 lessons have been delivered on drug and substance misuse," Mr Cockwell said.
These lessons have been targeted towards five to 16-year-olds, but support is also being offered to 17 to 24-year-olds.
Mr Cockwell said: "The key is getting the message through to young people.
"It is about putting the information out there and giving them the education so they know what the horrific effects of drugs are."