Over recent months a number of constituents made direct contact with me, and with my colleague Gerald Jones MP, about issues and concerns in the Upper Rhymney Valley. As a result we asked Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert for a meeting, to which he readily agreed, and we also asked a number of other organisations to join this meeting. A statement from Rhymney Community Action was also presented to the meeting. As you may have read in the local press that meeting was held last week in Blackwood Police station and I can now give a first update for local residents.

The meeting was given a clear understanding of the issues being raised. As AM, MP and your local councillors it was clear to me that we all need to work with the Police and other partners. What happens cannot be just a knee jerk reaction to recent complaints but a longer term process of building greater trust so we recognise the good things that can happen in our communities, and have more communication about other improvements going forwards.

Everyone has a part to play. As AM I hope to have shown that we do listen to your concerns and have ensured that action will follow. One meeting and one photo is not the response but is an indication that we have heard the concerns. Your local Labour councillors are playing their part and we are looking to further strengthen the links between councillors and partner organisations so there is more and better communication. The Caerphilly Observer covers the meeting in their paper today, though our meeting was far more wide ranging than the headline suggets.

The Gwent police, like other police forces, has faced Central Government cuts in funding but local policing has been increased and teams are working out of Rhymney again. The Gwent PCC is prioritising more unformed officers for his area as part of the current plans.

The meeting was also very clear that we must all play our part to support the work of the Police. Most importantly incidents of crime and disorder must be reported to the Police so they know how best to deploy their resources. An evidence base is key to all their work – whether it is seeking to prevent problems at source, or collecting the material required to pursue action and possible prosecutions. The Police are clear that they do respond to evidence and some recent work has seen people prosecuted and awaiting Court.

But that in itself is not enough so there is a plan to take more action going forwards. The Police and crime Commissioner is joining me in local surgery work, community and policing events will take place and work is needed to provide more opportunities for young people.

We must all help each other, and support the work of the police, to help tackle some of the issues raised. We must work together to make sure that the Upper Rhymney valley has better opportunities for our young people. There can be no quick fix but we can work together to improve the situation.

For my part as the Assembly Member I will continue to work with the community, to listen to and deal with your concerns as best I can, and to help partner organisations where I can. Gerald Jones MP and I will be out and about in Rhymney over the coming months and we hope to see and hear more from you as the work moves forwards.