South Wales Chief Constable says sorry following critical Swansea riot report
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
The chief constable of South Wales Police, Jeremy Vaughan, has said sorry following the publication of an independent review into the Mayhill, Swansea riot of May 2021.
The report criticised the response of South Wales Police, which refused two requests for a public order unit to be deployed, and left cowering residents “unprotected”.
It said there were “significant failings”, and called for a full investigation and that all the available evidence, information and material was needed.
Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said that he wanted to “apologise to all those who have been affected by this incident and particularly those local residents who were tormented by those responsible”.
“We failed to take action quickly enough on the night and for that I am truly sorry,” he said.
“We have made some immediate improvements to our operational practices following this incident including how we manage information around an escalating incident and how we draw upon resource from across South Wales and beyond more quickly.”
The force said that while a thorough criminal investigation has continued, local police have been working with the council, community leaders, residents and other partners to support those affected and to restore confidence after the incident.
The investigation has resulted in 46 arrests and police are currently awaiting a charging decision from the Crown Prosecution Service on a total of 37 individuals involved in the disorder.
An internal review has also been carried out by South Wales Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis said the response on the evening in question fell short of the force’s usual standards.
“A number of areas of learning have been highlighted in relation to our response and we fully accept the findings of the review,” he said.
Alun Michael, the force’s police and crime commissioner, welcomed the police’s response to the independent review, chaired by QC and professor, Elwen Evans.
Mr Michael said: “It is with the local community that local police have sought to reconnect and build confidence and I pay tribute to the way in which the community itself rallied and united in the face of the terrible events of that night.
“But none of that detracts from the importance of the report and its findings.”
He said the force had a strong reputation for local policing and also handling major events.
“On this occasion, South Wales Police got their response wrong and the test of quality is to accept criticism when it is justified and to tackle the issues head on,” he said.
Swansea Council said it also welcomed the review’s findings.
It said the shocking events of May 20 last year “were not reflective of the residents or these communities and we will continue to be there for Mayhill and Waun Wen”.
The council said: “We are grateful the panel recognised the comprehensive plan we have developed for Mayhill and Waun Wen detailing the significant investment and support the council has made over many years and our plans for additional investment to build on this.
“We have already started work to address the panel’s recommendations for the council and are meeting with partners to improve the way we work together and to develop a plan to further strengthen community development, including youth provision and safe spaces.”
The review said it was “unfortunate” that a barrier had not been installed on steeply sloping Waun Wen Road before the riot, despite it being requested. One was erected very soon afterwards.
The council said: “We are working with residents on developing a new road layout and landscaping to create a new natural barrier on Waun Wen Road and, subject to their support, we will look to create a new play area and community space as part of this work.”
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