One Police Wales naive because ‘criminal threat’ comes from England says former North Wales police boss
A former North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner has said that the idea of merging Wales’ police forces into one was “naive” because the “criminal threat” for both the north and south of Wales came from the east in England.
Arfon Jones was responding to Chief Constable Dr Richard Lewis of Dyfed Powys Police who had called for Wales’ four forces to be united in the same way as Police Scotland.
But Arfon Jones who stepped down at last year’s election told Golwg360 that it wasn’t “a good idea,” adding that funding would also be centralised in the south-east of Wales as a result.
“The way we should look at policing is to look at the operational side,” he said.
“When you look at the north of Wales, and the rest of Wales really, the criminal threat doesn’t come from the north or south, it comes from the east and west.
“The threat to us in the north comes from Manchester and Liverpool, and the threat to south Wales comes from Bristol and London.
“It comes down the M5 and the M4, it doesn’t come from mid-Wales.
“So I personally think that if they unite into one force, everything will be focused on the M4 area and there will be nothing but crumbs for the rest of us.
“That would be bad for the safety of people in north and west Wales.”
His words echo those of Chief Constable Carl Foulkes of North Wales Police who said on Thursday that for him the major organised crime came from “left to right rather than up and down”.
He was speaking at a special one-off session on policing in Wales at the Welsh Affairs Committee this week.
“It comes from Mersyside, it comes from Manchester. So all my working partnerships were from the north-west [of England],” he said.
“But our shared culture, our shared language are absolutely in Wales. So there are some challenges for us to move and get over in North Wales.
“How do you maintain that local service delivery on a national level, which could be a challenge.”
Both were responding to Richard Lewis who called for an united force, and had told the BBC: “Doing away with those borders means we can provide a more effective service.”
“One chief constable rather than four. One deputy chief constable. Dare I say one commissioner instead of four,” he said.
“Police Scotland had a difficult start but I think they’re now seeing the benefits of having one national service in Scotland.
“We can learn the lessons, of course, from those early days in Scotland… creating national structures in the IT world et cetera.”
The Chief Constable of South Wales has said that policing would need to be devolved to Wales before combining all four police forces into one Police Wales would make work.
Jeremy Vaughan said that under the present system, where the Home Office had created 43 Police and Crime Commissioners to set policing priorities, it was not up to him to “instigate the conversation”.
“I don’t think you could go for a single Welsh police force until you devolve policing to Wales,” he said.
“Because otherwise, I don’t really see the benefit of operating on a single force model, if you wouldn’t then have a greater degree of leverage and influence with partners in Wales.
“And that would have to happen alongside the devolution of policing and for me. Because to maximise the benefits and the costs that is a patently political decision.”
He added that he had “no doubt” a single Welsh police force would be more efficient.
“You could with a greater scale have better single IT infrastructure systems, you could have better back-office functions, and you could have a greater procurement ability, albeit we do procure a lot on a all-Wales basis now. So the potential for you to do things at scale more efficiently, I think is clear.”
However, he added that it “wasn’t clear” whether the service would be better as a result. He noted that there were big differences between policing Dolgellau where he grew up and Swansea. “You’re never going to get a riot in Dolgellau, but we had one in Swansea recently.”
“And I think that means that the way that we deliver policing services would I think take quite a long time for it to settle down to deliver a better service,” he said. “I don’t think this will ever be a short term delivery.
“You might deliver efficiencies in the short term, but service improvement could take longer to embed and whether there was the political will and appetite to see that unfold over time.”
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What this discussion makes clear is,without a workable settled constitutonal arrangement no real policing changes can be made.Apart from Grayham’s ‘kick all English law breakers out of Wales’. On another matter sometime in the 1960’s I took part in a Cymdeithas yr Iaith demo in Dolgellau and the response this got from some Welsh speaking local residents could have been regarded as riotous if the police had not been in sympathy with them.Also around the same time on the Maes in Caernarfon on a Saturday night when the Bohana family took on the police,this was descibed in the press local… Read more »
Arfon didn’t mention riots, Jeremy Vaughan did.
Arfon identifies the greatest criminal threat comes from the East in Liverpool and Manchester and voices concerns about how resources are likely to be centred on the south of Wales with a one Wales force
Dyfed Powys police can’t cope with the area they’re responsible for as it is. Our local nick shuts at 4.30 Monday to Friday and doesn’t open at weekends.
“The threat to us in the north comes from Manchester and Liverpool…’
He is spot on about that, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and other towns are really suffering because of this. I really long for devolution of the criminal justice system so that we can tackle this in Wales and try to put an end to this crime and anti social behaviour
Former NW PCC Arfon Jones reasoning that having one combined police force in Wales like in Scotland was a bad idea because the criminality largely comes from the East in England to North Wales and South Wales? There’s a flaw in his argument. So he pours cold water on a combined all-Wales police force because most of the criminality comes from over the border in England, What he should question, is why are those English regional police forces failing to stop or track criminality from entering Wales in the first place. Where’s the so-called communication with our Welsh forces? What… Read more »
I am on the record as being in favour of Policing and Justice since 2016, Devolution of policing and one amalgamated force are two different things. Operational delivery to protect the public is more important than the structure of the forces. With the exception of Liz Saville Roberts knowledge and interest in policing and justice within the hierarchy of Plaid Cymru is extremely limited.
Can i ask what qualifications you have on Policing to make such claims? Arfon Jones certainly has the experiance in respect of Welsh Policing and he makes some very valid points which to me sound far more sensible than some of your claims- you seem to blame the English forces for not stopping criminals travelling into Wales- Perhaps you can tell us how they could do this? A lot of your criticism of Arfon seems to be based on the fact he decided to leave Plaid which has obviously annoyed you.
The NWalea PA i sat on for several years favoured the all Wales structure that fitted our nations needs. It did however reflect the views later expressed by Arfon. What happened in Scotland bore out his fears of centralisation away from the toens to the major cities. We saw the need for a Wales holistic approach that brought in Criminal Justice, Community safety, courts , probation and a judicial recognition of Wales’ cultural needs. However like Arfon we recongnised the ‘ north west ‘ serious crime link as vital to combating cross border drive ins along the A55. Bristols’ relationship… Read more »
Scrap the lot, North Wales Police are completely useless and incompetent. Try getting a phonecall or meeting with the PCC it’s virtually impossible, it’s a bullsh*t position for politicians to steal a wage.