Police Chief Engages in Welsh Dialogue
01 August 2003

What makes a community? Why do some communities feel threatened? Is ‘one Wales’ possible?

How to resolve tensions in and between communities was the subject of a dialogue held in North Wales in April. It is an issue that concerns many Welsh-speaking communities who feel that their way of life is threatened by large numbers of non-Welsh speaking incomers.

Held at the Welsh National Language Centre on the Llyn Peninsula in north-west Wales and entitled, ‘One Wales—building trust between communities’, it asked: What makes a community? Why do some communities feel threatened? Is ‘one Wales’ possible?

Clive Wolfendale, Assistant Chief Constable, North Wales Police, gave the keynote address in Welsh, although he had only moved to the area from Greater Manchester three years ago. This in itself was an illustration of the determination on the part of the police to reach out to the Welsh-speaking community.

Emphasizing the priority now being given to community policing, he said that the focus had shifted from just responding to random calls about crime to addressing the fears and concerns of particular communities. ‘Our new Community Beat Officers, released from isolated car patrols and the ceaseless demands of the police radio, will be able to operate in really constructive ways, developing a stake in the communities they serve.’ He announced a new initiative to crack down on trivial misbehaviour and yobbish culture, to be called Dyna ddigon (enough is enough)—a milder, Welsh version of ‘zero tolerance’.

Would families support this, or just defend their own? asked Bishop Saunders Davies of Bangor, who chaired the dialogue.

Mohamed Messamah, who was representing the Iman Centre in Llandudno Junction, emphasized that the police could not do this on their own. ‘Everyone has to join in. We need a moral strategy for the nation. For Muslims the strength of a community or a nation lies in its moral life.’ Wolfendale agreed that the Dyna ddigon strategy could not work in isolation. ‘The strong sense of right and wrong that was fostered by the churches has largely gone. How can it be brought back?’ he asked. ‘What is the religious future in North Wales?’

Judy Ling Wong, Director of the North Wales-based Black Environment Network, said how important it had been for her that a leading figure in the police, ‘one of the power structures that affects all communities’, had been part of ‘a constructive communal conversation’.
Paul Williams

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