North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has attacked calls for the devolution of policing in Wales, highlighting the concerns of North Wales Police and the North Wales Police Federation regarding the proposals.
Labour is firmly committed to devolved policing, according to its general election campaign chairman in Wales, Wayne David said Labour’s manifesto would give Welsh ministers a larger role in policing.
Speaking in yesterday’s Assembly Debate on Police Devolution, Mr Isherwood said that while policing is a devolved matter in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the situation is different in Wales.
Mark Isherwood AM said:
The call for devolution of policing by Labour and the separatists is a blatant power grab which would deliver the opposite of real devolution.
This First Minister refers to the devolution of policing to Manchester as a model for Wales, but those are only the powers of Police and Crime Commissioners, and we already have devolution to them in Wales.
What he is therefore actually talking about is taking yet more powers from the regions of Wales and centralising these in Cardiff, giving themselves power to hire and fire Chief Constables.
Given Labour’s record of creeping and often intimidatory politicisation of devolved public services, this is a chilling proposition.
Police forces of Wales could be more than £25m a year better off if the Assembly gained responsibility for policing, Plaid Cymru claimed last year.
The devolution of policing was recommended by the cross-party Silk Commission but was not included in the Wales Bill.
Mark Isherwood added:
My contacts in both North Wales Police and the North Wales Police Federation have repeatedly told me that they have a closer affiliation with north-west England than the rest of Wales, and that there is a lack of competence in Welsh Government to handle the devolution of policing.
They expressed concern to me this week that Welsh Government control of policing budgets would see funding filtered south – and stated that they would like to know whether there is a desire in Welsh Government to merge the police forces in Wales, a proposal that was killed several years ago.