Monday, 19 May 2008

Towards a Welsh system of justice

Yesterday's Politics Show covered a paper I have written entitled 'Making Our Communities Safer'.

My argument is that the criminal justice system is not working and so should be devolved to Wales. Overcrowding in prisons has reached an all-time high and imprisonment rates in England and Wales are higher than other comparative Western European countries. By devolving criminal justice to Wales we could take a completely different approach, tacking the causes-not just the symptoms- of crime.

The Howard League for Penal Reform have said that "we were recently in Scotland, where criminal justice is devolved, and we were greatly impressed with the enthusiasm of the Scottish justice minister, Kenny MacAskill. We do believe that devolving criminal justice will usher in more innovative thinking and allow Wales to get off the runaway train to disaster which is Westminster's current prisons policy."

The One Wales programme has a commitment to examining the evidence for the devolution of the criminal justice system, and my paper represents Plaid Cymru's contribution to that evidence. Above all, I hope that this sparks debate around the issue because it is an area where we could really make progress for Wales.

You can read the discussion paper here. Send an email to, including your postal address if you would like a hard copy.

Readers may also be interested in Andy Newman's analysis of my report over at Socialist Unity.


Mark David said...

I support, without reservation, a devolved criminal justice system for Wales, especially one centred on tackling the root cause of crime and not simply punishing wrongdoers. It would decrease recidivism, which is surely the aim of any modern criminal justice system.

Tim Thomas said...

I fully support the devolution of the Criminal Justice System to Wales. As you quite rightly point out the causes of crime is from poverty, lack of education, poor housing and economic inactivity etc. Therefore, it is imperative that a fully devolved criminal justice system can work with other areas in Wales such as housing and education to tackle the problem of crime through joined up working.

The devolution and joined up working could be extended to local communities to form action groups to tackle and discuss local problems and issues. The group could include members of the police, housing, education and employment officials as well as (and most importantly) members of the local community including young people (youth parliament) who could act on intelligence based solutions that are applicable to their local communities.

These groups could eradicate moral panics created by the Labour party and the media by communicating with police, as well as improve the image of members of the community who have been used as scapegoats such as youths and ethnic minorities. Therefore, the group would have an added onus on existing community watch groups through education and equality awareness.

Richard Thorpe said...

I find this report to be very persuasive for the case of a devolved criminal justice for Wales. It is well argued, well researched and firmly evidence based.
The sad truth is that labour tends to follow what they perceive as popularist policies with the short term electoral goals in mind.
What we want from politicians is that they serve the best interests of Wales and the Welsh people. That means abandoning the popularist approach taken by Westminister and taking an analytical approach to the problems we face. Tackling the causes of crime on a community led basis seems by far the best way we can save our young people and put them on the right track.
As an educationalist I have seen some of the difficulties our youngsters face at first hand. The only other thing I would emphasis further is the importance that community based education can play in solving this problem - if it is done on a Wales basis our input can be well co-ordinated between the different services. We have one of the best police forces in the World here in Wales and they could play a much more influential part in this process if we had the criminal justice system devolved.
The people of Wales are not fools and will soon see through the short term selfish policies of the Welsh Labour Party and vote accordingly.
This Labour Party is only delaying the inevitable by such knee-jerk reactions ie following whatever London says in pursuit of short term gains. If they had some spirit and honesty they would think of the needs of the people of Wales rather than their own selfish ends