Pressure grows for devolution of Welsh policing

By staff writers
26 Feb 2012

Two former chief constables have called for responsibility for policing in Wales to be devolved to the Welsh government.

The Scottish and Northern Irish administrations oversee policing in their own countries, but Welsh policing is still run from London.

Timothy Brain, who was previously chief constable of Gloucestershire Police, backed the plan when he gave the annual lecture of the Centre for Welsh Legal Affairs in Aberystwyth on Thursday (23 February). He echoed the views of Clive Wolfendale, former chief constable of North Wales police.

"With the maturity of the Welsh government, which after all looks after such important functions as health and education, there is no longer any reason for not devolving policing as well," said Brain.

He insisted that "the arguments against no longer stack up".

But Wales' Labour government argued that this is not the right time to dissolve policing "given the huge financial commitments".

Brain's comments were backed by Plaid Cymru, who accused the UK government of being "out of touch with the needs and expectations of our nation".

The party's Westminster leader, Elfyn LLwyd, said, “A lack of geographical awareness coupled with cuts to services is leaving many people vulnerable due to Westminster proposals. It makes sense therefore to leave such important decisions that influence people's safety and wellbeing in the hands of those with greater local understanding."

The Howard League for Penal Reform has also proposed that aspects of criminal justice should be devolved to Wales.

Llwyd added, "Devolving policing powers would increase the accountability of the Welsh government while strengthening the democratic process through allowing those who govern Wales to make the decisions which directly impact its people."

Wales currently has four police forces: Dyfed-Powys, Gwent, North Wales and South Wales.

[Ekk/1]

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