So This Is What £4.9 Million Buys

The Daily Post is running yet another report on the north Wales drugs ‘crisis’ which seems to have caught the public’s imagination (please see blog posts ‘Normal Service Resumed – News Round-Up, March 8 2017’ and ‘Update, March 9 2017: My Complaint To The Betsi, Wrexham Drug Problem, Anglesey Children’s Services, HMP Berwyn’). The Daily Post is running another interview with the relative of someone in Wrexham who is alleged to be using Black Mamba, this time the mother of a teenaged girl who, it is claimed, has been ‘lost to the streets of Wrexham’. The mother who spoke to the Daily Post maintained that her daughter had complex mental health issues and hit the Black Mamba last year when her baby was removed from her and put into ‘care’. The ‘despairing mum’ stated that her daughter ‘needed sectioning last year but, as there were no available beds at the mental health unit in Wrexham, they let her walk out of the hospital…I’ve asked the police to help but they can’t do anything. As she’s not funding the drug through shoplifting, they can’t arrest her’.

I note that although the emphasis in this story is on the Black Mamba and the problems allegedly stemming from this, once again this would seem to be a story of complete state failure. A teenager with mental health issues has been unable to access mental health care – that is rapidly becoming an everyday story of north Wales folk – and it would seem that no-one will ‘help’ unless she breaks the law and is arrested. There is also another huge elephant in the room here – this teenager has had a baby removed from her care. There is at present a lot of concern about the fate of women who have had children removed from their care and of course there is equal concern about what happens to those children once they have been taken into ‘care’. North Wales has not covered itself in glory in this field in the past – there was a paedophile ring in this region that operated via the children’s services for years.

The Post also reports that Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, called on Jane Hutt AM, the leader of the House, to convene a summit involving all stakeholders involved in tackling substance misuse. Davies was reported to have said that ‘the Welsh Government’s substance misuse strategy is costing the taxpayer an estimated £50m annually to deliver, but the problems related to alcohol and drugs endure and show no meaningful signs of abating… the shocking images last week of drug users in Wrexham’s bus station epitomise the lethal complacency of Labour ministers in tackling this issue’. (At this point I would suggest that Mr Davies checks his facts – the original ‘shocking images’ that appeared in the Daily Post were not actually of ‘drug users’ in Wrexham bus station and this was admitted in the small print.) Responding to Mr Davies, Ms Hutt said: ‘If we look particularly at North Wales, the Welsh Government provides over £4.9m of the substance misuse action fund to the North Wales area planning board. That’s about commissioning a range of needs-led services delivered by the providers in that region’. Ms Hutt goes on to refer to the ‘multi-agency approach’ that is used, the ‘agencies’ including the North Wales Police, the police and crime commissioner, Wrexham local authority and voluntary sector organisations’.

Mr Davies may erroneously believe that Wrexham bus station is full of comatose people flat out on the floor because they are ‘on drugs’ – try travelling on a bus and changing at Wrexham bus station Mr Davies and you’ll soon find out that this is not true – but he does have a point about the Welsh Govt’s complacency. I’m sure that they WANT to tackle substance abuse, but they need to look at to whom they have given £4.9 million. The ‘voluntary sector organisation’ in question is CAIS, the substance abuse charity established and chaired by Dr Dafydd Alun Jones. Dafydd has long since promoted himself as the one ‘expert’ on drugs that north Wales has and since he assumed this role in the 1990s, the drug problem in north Wales has exploded. Despite their track record of dismal failure, Dafydd and CAIS continue to pick up lucrative contracts for ‘substance misuse services’ and now even for ‘service user involvement’. Readers are encouraged to read my blog post ‘The Story Behind £1.5 Million’ for the background to the very questionable ‘commissioning process’ that led to CAIS landing the contract for ‘service user involvement’ from Wrexham County Borough Council. And now we know that CAIS is receiving the best part of £5 million for providing an utterly hopeless ‘substance abuse service’, I suggest that someone undertakes a full investigation into how so much taxpayers money is finding its way into the coffers of CAIS. I’m also not sure how CAIS manages to charge so much for their lacklustre services – CAIS constantly boasts that it is a service based on ‘volunteers’ and ‘peer support’ (it’s ’empowering’ you see – the ‘service users’ ‘look after each other’, ‘giving something back’ and in return they don’t get paid). So where have the millions that CAIS has received gone?

But just to return to women who have their children removed and the fate of the children who are removed – I mentioned that for many years a paedophile ring operated in north Wales, through the children’s services. After the first investigation into this paedophile ring the Waterhouse Report was published, which named the Director of Gwynedd Social Services, Lucille Hughes, as knowing about this paedophile ring but failing to act. Lucille Hughes is a former partner of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and now sits on the Board of Trustees for CAIS. Here she is, wearing a very ill-advised wig Surely Lucille can purchase a decent hair-piece and still have change from £5 million. As for one of the other people mentioned by Jane Hutt in the ‘multi-agency’ approach to substance abuse in north Wales, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Arfon Jones – well he’s featured on this blog before. Arfon gave evidence in the recent trial of Gordon Anglesea, the former senior policeman who was imprisoned for sexual offences against children in care in north Wales. Arfon was the junior police officer who chauffeured Anglesea to the building in which Anglesea molested his victims. Arfon used to drive Anglesea to this location but was never required to pick him up again. Arfon didn’t ever seem to ask any questions about this arrangement. But then Arfon is a tad incompetent – it was recently revealed that Anglesea’s widow is still receiving £50% of his police pension, although he died as a convicted sex offender. It transpired that this was due to an ‘oversight’ by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales. Another ‘agency’ named by Jane Hutt as playing a role in the ‘multi-agency’ fight against drugs was the North Wales Police. That’s the same North Wales Police that employed Arfon and Anglesea. The North Wales Police employed someone else as well until quite recently – Clive Wolfendale, the former Assistant Chief Constable. Clive is now the CEO for CAIS.

Being a man of many talents, Dafydd also gave evidence as an ‘expert witness’ in many Court cases. In one case in south Wales, Dafydd gave evidence in the case of a solicitor who had raped someone, maintaining that he was suffering from ‘PTSD’. Dafydd’s evidence resulted in this rapist avoiding a prison sentence. After the case it was revealed that this rapist had a long history of doing very unpleasant nasty things to other people. However, Dafydd was sufficiently pleased with his work that as he left the Court, he gave a TV interview stating that he was glad that he had given evidence because if he hadn’t have done this, ‘someone would be in prison who should not have been in prison’. Well as far as I can see Dafydd, there are quite a lot of people in north Wales who should be in prison but are not in prison. There is ample space in HMP Berwyn but what’s the betting that their cells will fill up with people with mental health problems and drug issues?

Author: Sally Baker

I am a writer and a sociologist, originally from Somerset, but I’ve been based in Wales for most of my life. I had my first encounter with a mental health professional in 1984 at the age of 21. My GP described this man to my then partner – who also became a sociologist – as someone who had experienced ‘considerable success’. My meeting with this psychiatrist was a disaster and we attempted to complain about his insensitivity and highly inappropriate behaviour. That was the first time we were threatened and pressurised to withdraw a complaint against a mental health professional. This man is long dead – he was a retired psychiatrist from the North Wales Hospital Denbigh, T. Gwynne Williams, who was working shifts in the student health centre at University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). We discovered years later that this ‘successful man’ was notorious – he had been an enthusiastic lobotomist…

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