Sunday 4 September 2011

Dyfed Powys Police - the Major Incident Mystery

Back in April of this year, Dyfed Powys Police proudly announced that construction work on its new three storey major incident centre had been completed. The cost of this extension to the Carmarthen Headquarters of the force runs into millions of pounds, with some reports stating that the bill runs to £10 million. A chunk of the funding apparently came from the Welsh Government.
Here they are sharing a cake. Will they soon be sharing a bunker?
Five months have passed, and the centre has still not opened. There have been suggestions that the centre is prone to flooding, but a spokesperson for the police force dismissed these as just "local rumours" without giving an explanation for the delay in this week's Carmarthen Journal (article appears to be unavailable online).

The police have previously said that the new centre will be used for training, and that in the event of a major incident, the facilities could be used by other agencies, including Carmarthenshire County Council. The thought of Mark James and Meryl Gravell being comfortably ensconced in the new headquarters while the rest of us are left to fend off rabid badgers, floods, famine and marauding bands of Meibion Glynd┼Ár paratroopers is a great comfort, and we can be sure that the top brass of Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys county councils will be happy to relinquish control to the dynamic duo, since they appear not to have been given space in the new HQ and will therefore be wiped out with the rest of us.

No doubt when the flood waters recede and the last of the plague ridden peasantry have been 'dealt with', Meryl and Mark will emerge, Queen and King of all they survey. Real Power at last! And victory over those parochial fools on the fire and police authorities who rejected Meryl's plans to absorb the two authorities into the county council.

Older readers may be wondering why the council could not use its very own nuclear bunker under Spilman Street. You know, the one they just finished building at huge cost when the Berlin Wall came down? Now used for storage, apparently. How much is the county council paying to book its place in the new centre?

But back to the new super major incident centre. So far unopened and unused. Like me, you may be naively wondering how many major incidents Dyfed Powys have to deal with in a year. Or even how many truly major incidents they have dealt with, well, ever. Mrs Evans' cat stuck up a tree in Plwmp, perhaps?

Helpfully, the police tell us what counts as a major incident. You can find details here. The list is as follows:

Examples of Hazards

  • Transport accidents
  • Severe weather
  • Flooding
  • Industrial accidents and environmental pollution
  • Human health risks
  • Animal health risks
  • Industrial technical failure

Examples of Threats

  • Attacks using explosives
  • Chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats
  • Electronic attacks affecting utilities and communications
That's a pretty wide range of threats and hazards, and there have been examples recently of events which fell into the first category, including a tragic accident involving a minibus and the explosion at the refinery in Milford Haven earlier this year. Both involved loss of life. Hardly a week goes by without a fatal road accident somewhere in the region, and far too many of these involve young male drivers, but the number of road accidents which could be classified as major incidents is vanishingly small in a large geographical area with next to no stretches of motorway.

All of the incidents classified as "major" were managed successfully without the new major incident centre, which stood empty and unused for several of them. And there was no reason for Carmarthenshire County Council to take up residence either.

Even the architects of the new building said that it was unlikely that the new centre would see much active use, and the local Assembly Member, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, said he feared it might become another white elephant. This was probably a reference to the national herd of white elephants we have in Carmarthenshire, a herd which has grown and prospered mightily thanks to the vision of Mark James.

So as we prepare to fight off radioactive badgers and the flood waters lap around our homes, residents of the Dyfed Powys Police area might fleetingly wonder why the force has been spending so much on top of the range BMWs, etc. for the use of senior officers and the new major incident centre, while police stations in places like Tregaron are being closed.

It's all a question of priorities, of course. After all, what's more likely, a drunken brawl on a Saturday night in Tregaron or a nuclear threat to Trimsaran?

1 comment:

towy71 said...

Yet another "Emergency Centre" to go with the one under county hall and the leaky one under the car park in the old District Council building, that there are rumours that it is liable to flooding is ironic as I think the one in Spilman Street suffers from the same.
The money would have been better spent adding a custody suite in the police station in Carmarthen, it is after all the county town and has the police headquarters here!