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Friday, August 22, 2014

Skates slams "despicable" attacks on churches

POLICE in North Wales have recorded more than 300 incidents of vandalism at churches and thefts from religious buildings, including Llangollen, over the past three years, new figures have revealed.

The data, obtained by Assembly Member Ken Skates under the Freedom of Information Act, shows Wrexham as the county with the highest number of incidents (79), while Anglesey was targeted least (17).

The figures cover the period from April 1, 2011, to the same date this year and reveal a total of 334 thefts and vandalism offences over 36 months.

There were more than 60 incidents in Conwy and more than 50 each in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Gwynedd.

At least two incidents were recorded in Llangollen in June last year – first at St Collen’s where the lock on the church gate was glued shut and the second when lead was stolen from the roof of St John the Baptist.

Mr Skates, the Labour AM Clwyd South, said: “These incidents include charity collection boxes being stolen, dozens of thefts of lead and other metals and also handbags, purses and wallets being taken.

“The police have also had reports of windows being smashed, break-ins and fires being started. I don’t know what types of people would commit such crimes. Some of them would be sickening at the best of times, but when they take place in buildings that mean so much to so many people they’re nothing short of despicable.”

However, Mr Skates said he was ‘encouraged’ to see the figure falling from 132 in 2012-13 to 83 last year, and said he believed the additional 500 Police Community Support Officer roles created by the Welsh Government earlier this year were playing their part in reducing crime across North Wales.

He added: “I recently spent an afternoon on the beat in my constituency with one of our PCSOs, who are now a vital part of modern-day policing. They play an important role in solving crimes and ensuring people feel safe, and they are already making a difference in our communities throughout North Wales.”


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