North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner believes the devolution of policing to Wales is inevitable, saying it’s a matter of when not if.
According to Arfon Jones, the newly-elected chairman of the All-Wales Policing Group, there was now an unstoppable momentum in favour of the idea.
Mr Jones said support for devolving the issue was unanimous among the four Welsh commissioners who are members of the group.
Although not legally devolved many of the other areas of the criminal justice system, like the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts service, already operate with all-Wales structures.
Police forces in Wales would 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.
Arfon Jones said;
The four police and crime commissioners are keen to see more responsibilities devolved to Wales.
We welcome the fact that the Ministry of Justice are moving towards devolving more responsibilities to commissioners around victims and witnesses. This is a step in the right direction.
We believe policing should be completely devolved to Wales and it’s only a matter of time before it is.
Secretary of State Alun Cairns is yet to be convinced, he is said to be against the idea because “several people tried to move amendments to the Wales Bill to devolve such things as youth justice.” which wasn’t supported by the Government says Mr Jones, youth justice is the only part of children’s services which is not devolved to Wales.
Other areas like education, health and social care are all devolved – but youth justice still comes under the Ministry of Justice in London.
Speaking in an Assembly debate on police devolution in May, North Wales AM Mark Isherwood said:
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.