HOME Secretary Priti Patel revealed that her father owned a care home in Rhyl during an exclusive interview with the Journal.

Ms Patel was in North Wales as part of the general election campaign and was supporting Vale of Clwyd Welsh Conservative parliamentary candidate, Dr James Davies.

During a visit to the Pioneer office in Colwyn Bay - which homes the North Wales Pioneer, Journal, Denbighshire Free Press and North Wales Chronicle, Ms Patel told Coastal Chief Reporter Suzanne Kendrick about her time in Rhyl during the 1990s and how she had learnt a great deal from her father, Sushil Patel, about small business.

She said: “So I went to Keele University ages ago.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives at the office and is greeted by Terry Canty, audience and content editor, and chief report Suzanne Kendrick along with reporters from the Pioneer, Journal, Free Press and Chronicle. Picture: ALL PICTURES Kerry Roberts

“Back then my father had a care home in Rhyl so I used to come up here quite a bit actually. That was in the 1990s, so I am giving my age away.

“He had a nursing home / care home. Very difficult business, very hard mental work.

“I have plenty of experience [visiting the area]. My father taught me a lot about small business.”

Prior to arriving in Colwyn Bay, Ms Patel, who was appointed secretary of state for the Home Department in July, had visited the North Wales Women’s Centre on Water Street in Rhyl.

“James and I spent quite a bit of time at the centre, longer than anticipated, looking at some of the amazing… and I have to say amazing, outreach work,” Ms Patel said.

“How integrated they are with so many different aspects of social services and with the NHS and as a women’s centre, actually really positive. Not all about victimisation but providing positive outcomes to the women who come to them.

“I thought they were so refreshing and a breath of fresh air.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Earlier that morning, Home Secretary Priti Patel had visited the North Wales Women’s Centre in Rhyl with Dr James Davies

“We have been doing a lot of work for women who are vulnerable, subject to domestic abuse, violence etc. We are trying to transform national policy.

“They are really quite innovative, engaging, doing things differently but actually looking at the individual needs rather than ‘this is all we do, this is a generic one size fits all.’

“There is never a one size fits all, so for me, that was particularly good and all credit to them for everything that they are doing.”

Talking to Ms Patel about Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board being in special measures since 2015, the Home Secretary admitted she was shocked.

“It is really disappointing,” she added.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Dr James Davies have a read through our papers

“I think it is shocking actually with the heath situation in Wales. Special measures... it is definitely not for want of resources.

“There are fundamental issues and questions around accountability that have to be answered.

“Our NHS is amazing. I am a mum. I use the NHS a lot, as every parent does,but at the same time we have to recognise - a bit like crime - life expectancy is changing, everything is changing in society, demography, people’s needs are changing, health and social welfare, wellbeing is changing as well and that has implications.”

Ms Patel intends to introduce a fast track ’NHS visa’ for overseas doctors and nurses under new immigration plans, if the Conservatives are elected.

She said: “It is deliberately called a ‘fast track’ visa because we already have a system, and the visa system, where people that come from elsewhere in the world we do support them to come in to the NHS but we are now going to fast track this.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke about a number of issues and revealed her father had a care home / nursing home in the 1990s

“It is a two week process. You have to be sponsored by the NHS, so it could be a local hospital here or a local hospital in my constituency, it could be anywhere in the country to bring people who are skilled. It is the skills component which matters. Doctors, nurses and health care professionals - that is where we have got the shortage.”

Asked whether doctors, nurses and health care professionals would be attracted to working at a special measures health board, Ms Patel responded: “I think it will be the test of the local health board actually, in terms of how open and how engaging they are going to be around this policy.

"To help turn things around, you need great people with skills to complement good devoted people already in the NHS and this is a people business effectively. It is people providing support to people in need, people who require care and that means leadership and that leadership obviously needs to come forth from the board, they are the ones that need to be held to account on this.

“BCUHB are going to need strong, accountable leadership and leaders who are going to want to engage with great innovations like this. Good opportunities to bring in people with skills to complement and work alongside people that are already dedicated and devoted to the NHS.”

Denbighshire Free Press:

Home Secretary Priti Patel the the team: L-R Scott Clarke, Terry Canty, Dale Spridgeon, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Dr James Davies, Suzanne Kendrick, Shaun Davies and Allan George

Last month, 39 victims died in horrific conditions in a lorry. Initially it was thought the lorry entered via Holyhead.

“There is a criminal investigation taking place right now and it is incredibly sensitive and it is my police force in Essex that oversee all of this," Ms Patel said.

“To call this horrific is an understatement. There is a lot of criminality behind this and also, it is not just UK, but around the world we are seeing just appalling abuse of vulnerable individuals that do want a better life in different countries but they are being trafficked. It is human trafficking that has become just a dreadful dreadful crime.

"We have the National Crime Agency, a massive criminal investigation, international criminal investigation. I am afraid in due course we will hear some really horrific things about what has happened.

“We, as a country, have to stop this from happening and there is ways which we can do that.. We are in an election so we are unable to make announcements and decisions in an election campaign.

“Prior to going into the election campaign and when this happened, I have called for a complete reassessment of what the entire government is doing on illegal migration. We have endless policies, sign lots of protocols around the world but quite frankly, it is really making enough of a difference?

“Criminal gangs use refrigerated lorries and vehicles. We are uping checks across the board, and rightly so, but criminals have chosen that route because detection has been historically very difficult, so we now are looking at all sorts of things in terms of stopping more lorries and new technology as well. There is a lot taking place there.”

In October, it was revealed that North Wales Police is to receive funding for 62 police officers as part of the first wave of the national uplift of 6,000 officers nationwide by the end of 2020-2021.

“It is part of the 20,000 recruitment,” Ms Patel said.

“That was my day number one in the job. My second day was setting up a national policing board where we can oversee how we recruit, train and equip the next generation of police officers. They will deal with the changing nature of crime.

“About four weeks ago we announced the first wave of the uplift, which is the allocation of 6,000. You will see a lot more coming forward.

“Post election we will be looking at the allocation. The recruitment is incredible actually and it is quite humbling to see the recruitment process. We have set up websites, local recruitment as well as national recruitment, everything that is going on.

“We have been meeting newly trained police officers because outside of the 20,000. This will transform local policing. You will see much more community base policing, more town teams, greater police presence, you will get more police officers turning up to schools for example, local council meetings, parish council meetings, town councils."