Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Labour should devolve justice powers to Wales if it wins power in Westminster – Drakeford

25 Jan 2024 3 minute read
First Minister Mark Drakeford by Senedd Cymru Welsh Parliament

A Labour UK Government should pave the way for the transfer of policing powers to the Welsh administration and avoid adopting a “King Canute” stance on devolution, Mark Drakeford has suggested.

The outgoing First Minister said colleagues in Westminster would have a “responsibility” to show the “journey has begun” towards handing Cardiff more control of the system across the border if they win this year’s election.

In 2022, a report led by former prime minister Gordon Brown said the next UK Labour government should “embark upon the devolution of youth justice and the probation service”.

It stopped short of backing wider justice devolution, and shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens has indicated Labour does not plan to transfer power over policing and prisons.

Mr Drakeford, who has repeatedly called for justice powers including over policing to be transferred across the border, was asked about Westminster opposition to his proposals during a Q&A at the Institute for Government.

Take steps

He said he did not expect criminal justice to come to Wales in “one big lump” but that an incoming Labour government could take steps towards devolution, starting with youth justice and probation.

“There are some colleagues in London who regard this as a zero-sum game, that anything that is devolved elsewhere is a loss to them,” he told the event on Thursday.

Mr Drakeford said that some MPs will simply have concerns about how such reforms would work in practice, but that “those questions are, particularly in youth justice, probation and indeed, policing… very easily answered.”

“All four Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales are firmly in favour of the devolution of policing.

“So again, even people who are close to the operational end of all this share our view,” he said.

“I caution my colleagues against a King Canute position on this matter. The tide is only going in one direction.”

Launching the Brown report in 2022, Sir Keir Starmer promised the biggest ever transfer of power to Wales.

But speaking to the BBC’s Politics Wales programme last week, Ms Stevens said: “We have said that we will explore the devolution of youth justice and probation.

“But we will not be looking at devolution of policing and justice.”

‘Be bold’

Mr Drakeford, who is due to step down as Welsh Labour leader in March, suggested his biggest regret was not to have made more radical changes and said his advice to his successor would be to “be bold”.

“The biggest challenge for Welsh Labour when you have been in power as we have been for nearly 25 years is renewal and a determination not to just rest back on the oars of being in Government,” he said.

“I think the challenge for Labour is always to be looking for those radical changes that are necessary. Maybe I sometimes think what I’ve regretted is that we weren’t bold enough when we had the chance to be so.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Richard E
Richard E
29 days ago

We can expect very little from an incoming Labour Gvt. St Davids Day as a National holiday is what many expect we will be “ given “ should we see a strong “ nationalist vote “ a colleage told me at a Westminster event in Decrmber !

crumbs indeed ✌🏼

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
29 days ago

We must demand control of law, justice system and police.
All nations of this world have control of their assets otherwise they are a puppet state.

We must also have controls of all our land and coastal waters and that includes taking over what is currently crown estate.
This is a minimum and should a UK Labour government not do this then they are not your colleagues.

Welsh Labour must never sell out to the UK.

A Plaid Cymru government will always work for Wales and in the interests of Wales.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
29 days ago

Trouble is Plaid Cymru, except for Leanne, live in a bubble and don’t really understand Welsh people outside that bubble. That’s why they will never be a viable National party.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
29 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

I really liked Leanne Wood too. I thought she was passionate about her beliefs (remember when she was ejected from the Senedd for calling the late Mrs Windsor: “Mrs Windsor” and refusing to retract it – total respect to her!). She was not afraid to stand up for Wales. Plaid made a huge mistake in turning on her. I really don’t understand why they did.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
29 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

That’s the bit about Leanne I did not like. Why go out of your way to alienate people who just might support you one day, inside the bubble everything seems crystal clear but there is another world outside.

Last edited 29 days ago by Iago Traferth
Dai Rob
Dai Rob
29 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Awful woman & Plaid’s % vote share went down under her!!!

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
29 days ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Yea they went from strength to strength after Leanne. No problems there were there.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
29 days ago

Well said Mark Drakeford! The UK Labour party will need to ensure that, this time, they don’t water down the proposals (and patronise us with ” this is good for Wales”) and leave us without the powers to find ‘Welsh solutions to Welsh problems ‘ (their own words). We need the whole of justice devolved, as well as Crown Estates, energy powers, railway infrastructure and tickets, some welfare powers. broadcasting and whatever else is needed to make Welsh lives better. Under London rule, we will always be seen, and treated, as less important. Jo Stevens, put Wales first please, we… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
29 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Jo Stevens is my local MP, who doesn’t communicate in Cymraeg. All the election materials is in English only, and her monthly report to constituents, at least 10% of whom speak Cymraeg. In most aspects Ms Stevens is a good constituency MP, but her apparent disrespectful approach to those of us who speak Cymraeg and who wish to use it in our daily lives does her no favours.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
29 days ago

There should be no barrier in UK Labour devolving policing & criminal justice to Wales seeing it is controlled by Scotland, Northern Ireland & England within the framework of the United Kingdom.

And I reject the idea peddled by those hostile who argue Wales is better served under the umbrella of England & Wales when they agreed to the devolution of policing to the city of Manchester but not to Wales. Devolve. No ifs or buts!

Last edited 29 days ago by Y Cymro
Gareth
Gareth
29 days ago

UK Labour see no problem in London and Manchester controlling the police, but it seems to be a step to far for us. They treat us like children, fools even, who are unable, in their view, to run our own affairs, when they have devolved these things to Scotland, N Ireland and the mayors of English cities. Utter contempt of our nation and people shown yet again.

Last edited 29 days ago by Gareth
Rob
Rob
29 days ago

The position of Welsh Secretary (along with the Scottish and Northern Irish equivalents) should be scrapped once and for all. After the election because Jo Stevens will represent the largest party in Wales she will claim that this is some kind of democratic mandate to overrule the wishes of the First Minister. Yet this still leaves us with the possibility of having an unelected Tory Welsh Secretary in the future who may not even represent a Welsh constituency. I suspect however if the Tories were to make gains in Wales at the next Police and Crime Commissioner elections then Welsh… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by Rob
Doctor Trousers
29 days ago

I’m seeing increasingly strong parallels between the trajectory of Mark Drakeford’s position on devolution and that of Henry Mcleish, the former first minister of Scotland, who went from staunch devolutionist, to unenthusiastic unionist, to outright saying that he would campaign for Scotland to be an independent sovereign state within the EU.

Gareth
Gareth
29 days ago

The problem here is, that Mr Drakeford appears to be a very enthusiastic unionist.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
29 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Can’t see the problem there, neither can the vast majority of Welsh people.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.