|South Wales Police|
Heddlu De Cymru
|Annual budget||£249M 2012–13|
|Operations jurisdiction||Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and Vale of Glamorgan unitary authority areas, UK|
|South Wales Police operations area|
|Police Constables||2,863 (of which 98 are Special Constables) |
|Police Community Support Officers||400|
|Police and Crime Commissioner responsible|
|Divisions||4 (Eastern, Western, Central, Northern)|
South Wales Police (Welsh: Heddlu De Cymru) is one of the four territorial police forces in Wales; the largest in Wales by strength and population served, and the seventh largest in the UK. It is headquartered in Bridgend.
The force was formed as South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969 by the amalgamation of the former Glamorgan Constabulary, Cardiff City Police, Swansea Borough Police and Merthyr Tydfil Borough Police. In 1974, with the reorganisation of local government, the force's area was expanded to cover the newly created counties of Mid, South and West Glamorgan. In 1996, the force adopted its current name and lost the Rhymney Valley area to Gwent Police due to further local government reorganisation.
Organisation and recruitment
The force is overseen by the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, which replaced a police authority of councillors, magistrates and lay members in 2012.
South Wales Police employ 2,862 officers, 400 Police Community Support Officers, approximately 1,631 support staff and 285 Police Support Volunteers. South Wales Police's Special Constabulary recruits every 6 months. In February 2014, the force introduced a requirement that anyone wishing to become a police constable first studies for the certificate in knowledge of policing before applying for the role. SWP is the first force in Wales, and only a handful in the UK to introduce this.
Under proposals made by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2006, the force would have merged with North Wales Police, Gwent Police and Dyfed-Powys Police, to form a single strategic force for all of Wales. This issue caused sharp divisions among some members of the police force.
The South Wales Joint Scientific Investigation Unit is a joint venture between South Wales Police and Gwent Police, established in 2012 and based in Bridgend. It employs 160 staff; 110 from South Wales Police and 50 from Gwent. It is a Centre of Excellence - the only location in the UK able to undertake glass investigation, and one of only three in the UK with a metal vacuum deposition room for fingerprint analysis from smooth surfaces. It is obtaining ISO accreditation.
The South Wales Police has participated in the World Police and Fire Games since 1995, except for the 1999 Stockholm Games.
- 1969–1979 : T G Morris
- 1979–1983 : Sir John Woodcock
- 1983–?? : David East
- 1989–1996 : Robert Lawrence
- c.2002 : Sir Anthony Burden
- 2004–2009 : Barbara Wilding
- 2010–2017 : Peter Vaughan
- 2018–2020 : Matt Jukes
- 2020-present : Jeremy Vaughan 
- Barry police station
- Bridgend police station
- Cardiff Bay police station
- Cardiff Central police station
- Merthyr Tydfil police station
- Neath police station
- Pontypridd police station
- Swansea police station
Corruption, racism and criticism
The Cardiff Newsagent Three were three men wrongly convicted of the 1987 murder of Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders, who was attacked with a shovel in the back yard of his Cardiff home and later died in hospital. Michael O'Brien, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood spent 11 years in prison before being released.
In 1989, the body of Karen Price was discovered in Cardiff. Two construction workers unearthed a rolled carpet while installing a garden behind a house. It was disclosed that a number of officers from the South Wales Constabulary who were involved in the investigation of Price's murder had also worked on the Lynette White and Philip Saunders murder inquiries, in which six men were wrongfully convicted. Other sources of concern in the Price case, according to the commission, included breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the PACE Code of Practice, which govern the detention, treatment, and questioning of persons by police officers; the credibility of the prosecution witnesses; "oppressive handling by the police of key witnesses"; and the "veracity of Mr. Ali's guilty plea".
Supression of Anti-Apartheid protest
In November 1969 the South Africa national rugby union team played Swansea RFC at St. Helen's Rugby and Cricket Ground as part of the 1969–70 South Africa rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland, during which many matches were protested due to South Africa's system of Apartheid. The match that took place in Swansea became known as the "Battle of Swansea" due to violent clashes between protesters, police and stewards hired to assist with policing of the match. In the aftermath of the match 30 complaints were made against the police and over 100 people were injured including 11 police officers. Eyewitness and future MP Hywel Francis describing the policing of the event as "a military-style operation". The leader of the protests Peter Hain described the response to the protest as being "particularly nasty" and described his shock at discovering "a friend had a broken jaw and a woman demonstrator almost lost an eye". After the event the then Home Secretary, James Callaghan spoke in the House of Commons criticising the police's use of stewards stating "My own view, and I want to put this to the chief constables, is that it is better for the police to tackle this job themselves rather than to have amateur assistants, no doubt of a very beefy character, but not necessarily designed to ensure that the peace is not breached."
Murder of Lynette White and false convictions
In November 1988, South Wales Constabulary charged five mixed-race men with the murder of Lynette White, although none of the scientific evidence discovered at the crime scene could be linked to them, and a white male was seen in the vicinity at the time of the murder. On conclusion of the longest murder trial in British history, in November 1990 three of the men were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. In December 1992, the convictions were ruled unsafe and quashed by the Court of Appeal after it was decided that the police investigating the murder had acted improperly. The wrongful conviction of the three men has been called one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in recent times. The police claimed that they had done nothing wrong, that the men had been released purely on a technicality of law, and resisted all calls for the case to be reopened.
In 2004 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) began a review of the conduct of the police during the original inquiry. Over the next 12 months around 30 people were arrested in connection with the investigation, 19 of whom were serving or retired police officers. In 2007 three of the prosecution witnesses at the original murder trial were convicted of perjury and each jailed for 18 months. In 2009 two further witnesses from the original trial were also charged with perjury. Along with eight former police officers charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice, they stood trial in 2011. The trial was the largest police corruption trial in British criminal history. A further four police officers were due to be tried on the same charges in 2012. In November 2011, the case collapsed when the defence submitted that copies of files which they said they should have seen had instead been destroyed. As a result, the judge ruled that the defendants could not receive a fair trial and all 14 were acquitted. In January 2012 the "destroyed" documents were found, still in the original box in which they had been sent to South Wales Police by the IPCC.
Jeffrey Davies rape convictions
In July 2016, a former police detective was jailed for 18 years after he was found guilty of raping two women. Jeffrey Davies, 45, of Aberdare, was serving in the Rhondda Valley when he raped his victims in 2002 and 2003. Cardiff Crown Court heard he was dismissed from the force in 2013 after being convicted of other sexual assaults. IPCC Commissioner for Wales, Jan Williams, has said Davies was a "sex offender hiding within the police".
Ian Watkins investigation
An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation report, published in August 2017, into the force's investigation of the child sex offender Ian Watkins, found that they had failed a number of times from 2008 to 2012 act on reports of Watkins' behaviour. The report concluded:
The consequence of the force’s failings was arguably that a predatory paedophile offended over an extended period of time. The evidence obtained in this investigation suggests that South Wales police were faced with a litany of reports about his behaviour, yet in some instances did not carry out even rudimentary investigation, made errors and omissions and missed opportunities to bring him to justice earlier than he ultimately was.
Use of facial recognition
South Wales Police became one of the first three Police forces in the United Kingdom to use Facial recognition to police large events alongside the Metropolitan Police and Leicestershire Police, although the latter force discontinued use soon after adoption. The use of facial recognition was met by much criticism, mainly revolving around the high rate of false positives with over 90% of people identified being incorrectly flagged. The use of the technology at football games was described by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones as "disproportionate" adding that its use could lead to miscarriages of justice. Prof Paul Wiles, the UK biometrics commissioner criticised the lack of government oversight of the technology saying that due to the lack of legal framework governing the technology it is at the police's discretion whether the public benefit exceeds the "significant intrusion into an individual’s privacy" caused by the use of facial recognition.
The first time a court had ever considered the use of facial recognition technology was when someone who had been photographed by the technology brought a legal challenge against the use of facial recognition by South Wales Police arguing that its use constitutes a breach of privacy. This legal challenge was unsuccessful but is currently being appealed.
South Wales Police have also been criticised by civil liberties groups as the technology is more likely to give a false positive if the person being scanned is a woman or an ethnic minority. South Wales Police refute this claim on the basis that "AFR does not define race of an individual. When a person is potentially identified through the system. The identification is made on the match between the person’s eyes and is based on algorithm matches. The camera does not define race or sex of an individual." Although a Cardiff University assessment of the technology on behalf of the police did not test for misidentification on the basis of ethnicity or gender and acknowledged that this is a known issue with facial recognition technology "Multiple research studies have reported algorithmic biases regarding ethnicity in facial recognition systems. This was not an aspect empirically tested by the current study. It is an area of concern though."
In August 2019 South Wales Police announced that they would be trialing the use of facial recognition technology on 50 officers phones for three months, although no update has been given since.
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