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Cracking Crime Monday, 16 September, 2002, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Police 'not soft' on car crime
Car
Swansea is a black spot for car crime
Police in south Wales have hit back at allegations that they are soft on young car criminals.

The comments came after a former special constable was stunned when a man he stopped stealing his son's car received a reprimand.

Hywel Benjamin
Hywel Benjamin: Wants more done

Hywel Benjamin, from Loughor, near Swansea, had made a citizens arrest on the man, and felt stronger action was required.

"I am not asking for the chap to be packed in irons - that's not what I'm asking for," said Mr Benjamin.

"What I believe is if a person has committed an offence, and I would be the same if it were my son - if you have committed an offence, you are punished."

Under current Home Office Policy, first-time offenders are only reprimanded - unless they have committed a serious offence.

Inspector David Hathaway, from the Police Federation, defended the policy.

"It affords an opportunity for young offenders who are offending for the first time and are maybe very young - in their early teens," he said.

David Hathaway
David Hathaway: 'Opportunity for reform'

"It gives them an opportunity to learn from that mistake, mend their ways and avoid continued criminal activity throughout their teenage years."

For years, Swansea has been a black spot for car crime, but some attempts to curtail the problem are having a noticeable effect.

The introduction of boulders to stop cars being dumped and set on fire at a an area of land near the Blaenymaes has made a significant difference.

"There are no cars here now," said Mair Baker from the local tenants and residents association.

"They are not lighting fires down here, and it is all because of these boulders."

Another measure which has contributed to cutting crime figures in the area has seen police officers sending warning letters to people who leave valuable items visible inside parked cars.

 WATCH/LISTEN
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BBC Wales' Gail Foley
"Some measures in Swansea are having an effect"

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Where I Live, South West Wales
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14 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
Tackling crime's drug link
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