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Mother and baby 'had been dead for at least a week'

Joanne Thomas was found in her bed alongside four-month-old Harper

A mother and her baby daughter who were on Social Services' radar had been dead for at least a week before their bodies were discovered, an inquest has heard.

Joanne Thomas was found in her bed alongside four-month-old Harper at their terraced home in Troedyrhiw, South Wales, last July.

Aberdare Coroner's Court heard concerns had been raised weeks before, after 27-year-old Miss Thomas failed to take Harper for her injections.

The bodies were found in a house at Troedyrhiw last July Credit: ITV Wales

A social worker told acting coroner Andrew Barkley he tried to visit Miss Thomas on three occasions before their bodies were found, as well as sending out letters and attempting to contact her family.

The bodies were eventually formally identified via dental records and DNA testing - with a top pathologist saying it was "impossible" to say who had died first.

Police later ruled out foul play, as well as discounting the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning - after "slightly raised levels" were found in the blood of smoker Miss Thomas' blood and her baby.

A coroner was told Miss Thomas regularly complained of feeling unwell in the weeks leading up to her death and may have been vomiting blood.

'Multi million pound investment' for Merthyr and RTC

The Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething, will highlight more than £20 million of Welsh Government investment over the next two years to support Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff's most deprived communities.

Speaking at a special event looking at efforts to address poverty in south Wales, he will outline the number of initiatives in place to help the most vulnerable and improve their life chances.

The Welsh Government is facing unprecedented cuts. By 2015 -16 our budget will be nearly £1.7 billion less than it was in 2010 - 11.

Despite this, we are determined to invest in our most deprived communities to help improve health, education and life chances.

That is why we have a multi-million pound investment support package in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff. We are committed to helping people have a better chance of finding work and supporting parents facing the reality of managing on tight budget.

We know that the UK Government's welfare reform agenda is hitting hard with less help for hardworking parents as cuts to tax credits, cuts in help with childcare costs and the bedroom tax really bite.

The Welsh Government's approach is based on a different set of values and priorities. We know that to make the biggest possible difference to people's lives all of us across the public and voluntary sector need to work together much more effectively.

– Vaughan Gething, Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty

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Welsh Govt investment to help deprived communities

More than £20m is being invested to support Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taff's most deprived communities Credit: PA

The Welsh Government is investing more than £20 million over the next two years to support Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff's most deprived communities, the Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty Vaughan Gething will highlight today.

The minister will outline the number of initiatives in place to help the most vulnerable and improve their life chances.

The investment includes the Welsh Government's flagship programme to help those living in the poorest areas of Wales, Communities First.

It works to improve health, prosperity and encourages access to education and learning. Communities First in Merthyr Tydfil will receive £1.9 million, while Rhondda Cynon Taff will get £5 million.

The policy works alongside 'Families First' which is aimed at improving the way agencies work together and places a clear emphasis on early intervention for families, particularly those living in poverty, to help stop problems from escalating towards crisis.

Merthyr Tydfil is to receive £1,170,000 for Families First, while Rhondda Cynon Taff £3.8 million.

Both areas will also benefit from the expansion of Flying Start that supports children have the right start in life.

It provides eligible parents free quality childcare for children under the age of four, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help with their children's early language development.

Pontsticill forest fire out after seven hours

A forest fire at Pontsticill, Merthyr Tydfil, which has been burning for much of the afternoon is now out.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze involving around 180 hectares of mountainside was deliberately set.

Firefighters tackle 10km blaze at Pontsticill, Merthyr

Fire crews are fighting a forest fire approximately 10km in size at Pontsticill Reservoir, near Merthyr Tydfil.

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IPCC criticises police 'canteen culture' as pair sacked

Two South Wales police officers have been sacked for gross misconduct. It comes after an investigation into how they handled allegations that a former colleague had sexually abused victims of domestic violence.

The Independent Police Complaints Commisssion said its investigation found a unit at Merthyr police station had a so-called "canteen culture", where inappropriate comments and behaviour were viewed as harmless banter.

South Wales Police apologises for officers' conduct

South Wales Police has responded to the publication of the Independent Police Complaints Commission's report on the way officers dealt with allegations of sexual assault against a former colleague, offering "a sincere apology" to the women affected.

Detective Inspector Phillip Camm and Detective Sergeant Richard Jones have been sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said the force had been "deeply let down" by the officers' conduct.

He said they have now examined thousands of emails, and he is assured that their behaviour with lewd and offensive documents was not more common at the force.

From myself to our front-line, officers of South Wales Police are shocked and feel deeply let down by the behaviour of these officers. Let us be in no doubt, we owe the women affected a sincere apology as the conduct of these officers fell well short of the standards I expect from South Wales Police.

A number of offensive and inappropriate emails and documents came to light which were prepared by Sergeant Jones and seen by Inspector Camm, who failed to challenge them. I have to make it clear that this is behaviour I simply don't recognise within South Wales Police.

We have examined thousands of emails to see if such behaviour was more common. Quite simply it is not and evidently, the vast majority of our 5,000 officers and staff know that there is absolutely no place for lewd and offensive communication and it will not be tolerated.

Everyone throughout South Wales Police knows the values and standards which are expected from them, we train them in these standards and on promotion. I tell every manager that they have an absolute duty to challenge inappropriate behaviour and conduct.

Sergeant Jones and Inspector Camm failed to act in the professional manner that I expect of my officers. Their dismissals show that we will always be robust when it comes to staff misconduct.

At the same time, every year our front-line staff and specialist teams support hundreds of victims of sexual offences. Leaders across the force are ensuring that we do our very best to protect vulnerable people and respond to their needs.

– Chief Constable Peter Vaughan, South Wales Police

Officer made quiz poking fun at sex offence complaint

A South Wales Police officer created a quiz, which referred to an allegation of indecent exposure made against a fellow officer, and poked fun at the woman who had made the allegation.

A report published today by the police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission reveals that Detective Sergeant Richard Jones created the quiz, which was used by colleagues on a trip outside of work.

It also contained sexually explicit remarks.

Det Sgt Jones and another officer have been sacked due to their handling of sexual offence allegations made against former family liaison officer Jeffrey Davies.

Mr Davies was jailed last August for two counts of sexual assault, although he was cleared of the further allegation of indecent exposure against this woman.

The IPCC criticised a 'canteen culture' within a South Wales Police CID unit. Credit: South Wales Police

The woman made an allegation of indecent exposure against Jeffrey Davies in April 2011.

The IPCC found that Det Insp Camm failed to refer the woman's complaint to the Professional Standards Department, nor treat her as a victim of a sexual offence, and failed to carry out an effective investigation.

The IPCC's investigation also uncovered a series of inappropriate emails and documents from Detective Sergeant Richard Jones' computer, a number of which were sexual in nature.

One document, created the day after the woman had made the allegation against Mr Davies, contained lewd sexual and derogatory references to the woman.

Another document, written a few weeks after the woman's allegation, contained a list of questions about staff members, with multiple choice answers and a number of sexually explicit remarks.

One question referred to the woman's allegation specifically, describing it as 'scurrilous', and with derogatory references poking fun at her.

Det Sgt Jones told the IPCC that the quiz was used on a bus journey on a trip with colleagues outside of work hours.

IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams said: "I read with a sense of repulsion the sexual content of comments made by Detective Sergeant Jones, both in his emails and in the two documents found on his computer. They were littered with lewd language."

"One of the documents demonstrated a total lack of empathy and respect for a victim who had shown real courage to report an allegation of indecent exposure against a police officer. He treated her complaint as sport, to be used as part of a quiz with colleagues outside work."

"This was outrageous and demonstrates the contempt in which the woman and her allegation was held."

"It is only right that these officers have been dismissed. Their failure to challenge inappropriate behaviour strikes at the heart of confidence in policing and tarnishes the good work done by officers every day."

Two police officers sacked over handling of sex claims

Two South Wales Police officers have been sacked after an investigation by the police watchdog into their handling of allegations of sexual offences against a former family liaison officer with the force.

Jeffrey Davies was jailed for three years at Swansea Crown Court in August 2013 after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault. Credit: Athena Picture Agency

Detective Inspector Phillip Camm, who was Jeffrey Davies' line manager, and Detective Sergeant Richard Jones, who was his supervisor, both had cases of gross misconduct proven following a five-day hearing.

Both officers were based at Merthyr Tydfil police station in the force’s Aberdare CID unit.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says they were both dismissed on 28 February.

Its investigation found failures to carry out effective investigations into sexual offence allegations, and a series of inappropriate emails and documents containing sexual comments from Det Sgt Jones’ computer.

IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams said Det Sgt Jones "treated [a woman's] complaint as sport. This was outrageous."

"The investigation also revealed a CID unit pervaded with what could be described as a ‘canteen culture’ where inappropriate comments and behaviour were viewed as harmless banter."

"But the language demonstrated in emails and documents was, in fact, grossly unprofessional, offensive and demonstrated a lack of respect for the women complaining."

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