IN THE AFTERMATH of the tragic accident that claimed the lives of two teenagers, 16-year-old Kyrees Sullivan and 15-year-old Harvey Evans, in Ely, Cardiff, First Minister Mark Drakeford has acknowledged the strained relationship between residents and the police, describing it as “too often tense and anxious.” The incident led to a riot that resulted in nine arrests and injuries to 15 officers.
Mr. Drakeford, whose constituency includes Ely, spoke out about the conflicting views within the community regarding how to address the issue of bad behavior. While some advocate for a crackdown by the South Wales Police, others support a different approach. The First Minister organized a meeting on Friday, bringing together community representatives, public agencies, and councillors to discuss support measures for Ely.
During the meeting, it was agreed upon to jointly sponsor a grassroots-led initiative aimed at creating a community plan for Ely, which will address the long-term needs of its residents. Expressing the government’s commitment to assisting the saddened and disappointed residents of Ely, Mr. Drakeford emphasized the need to counter the negative impact on the area’s reputation.
“The fabric of some of our communities across Wales has suffered now for over 10 years – rebuilding that is a job that will take not just a few years, but many years,” stated Mr. Drakeford during a television interview.
When asked about the strained relationship between police and residents, the First Minister acknowledged the prevailing tension, anxiety, and concerns among residents regarding the adequacy of police resources to address criminal activities and community disaffection. However, he refrained from making easy criticisms of the police, acknowledging the challenges of their profession.
Mr. Drakeford highlighted the divided opinions within the estate, with some residents expecting a more direct response and crackdown on problematic behavior by the police, while others see the police as a solution to the underlying issues driving certain individuals, including young people, to engage in disruptive behavior.
The tragic incident unfolded on Monday evening when Sullivan and Evans were involved in a fatal crash on Snowden Road, Ely. Rumors circulating on social media suggested that a police van had been following the teenagers before the collision. CCTV footage later emerged, confirming that the police van had indeed been following them.
The South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, initially denied claims of a police chase but later acknowledged that officers had been following the teenagers. Further details are being withheld due to an ongoing investigation conducted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Meanwhile, Cardiff West Labour MP Kevin Brennan questioned Mr. Michael’s suitability to communicate with the public in light of these circumstances. However, First Minister Drakeford deemed the commissioner’s comments as a secondary issue, emphasizing the need for a thorough examination of the events surrounding the incident and the underlying causes. He emphasized the importance of understanding the concerns of the diverse communities residing in Ely and working together to address them.
Mr. Michael highlighted the ongoing IOPC investigation and the gathering of evidence from the community, preventing him from divulging further details. He mentioned instances where police officers were insulted and attacked by members of the local community, but also acknowledged expressions of gratitude from other community members for the police’s bravery and their efforts in protecting the public.
Due to the ongoing investigations by both the South Wales Police and the IOPC, the police stated that they are unable to provide any further comments at this time.