Wales must take control of justice to tackle ‘shockingly low levels’ of convictions for rape, ministers say
A justice system devolved to Wales would give the highest priority to tackling the national crisis of male violence against women, and the “shockingly low levels of convictions for rape and sexual assault”, the Welsh Government has said.
Westminster has “pulled the shutters down” on access for victims of crime, Wales’ Counsel General and Minister for Social Justice have said.
Outlining what a Welsh justice system would look like in a new report, Mick Antoniw and Jan Hutt said that it would be base on prevention through tackling social challenges and rehabilitation, instead of a more punitive approach.
The publication says that devolution of justice to Wales is ‘inevitable’, and sets out the core components of what a devolved justice system would look like.
Launching the publication today, the Counsel General Mick Antoniw said that the only sustainable way to improve the justice system “is to reduce the number of people coming into contact with it”.
“Our publication sets out the innovative ways in which we are using the powers we have, including early intervention to steer people away from the criminal justice system, and how we would seek to build on that through a fully devolved justice system.
“But the policies of successive UK governments since 2010 have firmly pulled the shutters down on access to justice, threatened fundamental rights and protections, and removed vital funding.
“We will continue to use the levers at our disposal to pursue a whole-system, person-centred approach to justice.
“And we look forward to justice and policing being devolved to Wales so we can accelerate this work and deliver a better system for citizens, communities and businesses across Wales.”
In ‘Delivering Justice for Wales’, ministers say that the underlying reasons for pressures on the justice system can only be addressed by taking a “preventative, holistic and inclusive approach”.
This would include:
- Focusing on prevention and rehabilitation.
- Reducing the size of the prison population by pursuing alternatives to custody where appropriate, such as programmes to address mental health issues and support with treatment for drug and alcohol misuse.
- Taking a rights based approach to law and policy making, and expanding the incorporation of internationally agreed rights’ standards into domestic law.
Later today the Welsh Government will publish an updated Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence strategy, outlining what will be done to make Wales the safest place to be a woman.
The Minister for Social Justice, Jan Hutt, added: “The clear conclusion of the independent Commission on Justice in 2019 was that policies and decisions about justice need to be determined and delivered in Wales, so they align with the distinct and developing social, health, social justice and education policy and services in Wales and the growing body of Welsh law.
“By joining up the justice system with the rest of Welsh policy making we can find truly effective ways of reducing crime.
“Our work on the Youth Justice and Women’s Justice Blueprints, and violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, show what can be done collaboratively to develop services tailored to the Welsh context.
“As it stands, however, the savings we make for courts or prisons – for example through PCSOs being successful in crime prevention – are not being reinvested in Wales. Devolution must happen so all this money can be reinvested in meeting Wales’s urgent needs.”
On future plans for justice reform within the current constraints, Ministers confirmed that they will:
- Consider the case for a Welsh Human Rights Bill
- Work in partnership with the new Law Council of Wales to improve the sustainability of the legal sector in Wales, especially in rural and post-industrial areas.
- Create a unified, single structurally independent system of tribunals in Wales (as recommended by the December 2021 Law Commission report on devolved tribunals)
The Welsh Government said that these plans would “build substantially” on what they were already delivering within the current constitutional constraints.
That included additional crime prevention funding of £22m annually for 600 PCSOs; the provision of 13 remote court hearing facilities across Wales for victims of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence; a Family Drug and Alcohol Court pilot in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan; and investment in the Single Advice Fund which has helped 81,000 people gain additional income of £32m and manage debts totalling over £10m, they said.
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All very admirable, but the attitudes towards such crime among our Police forces falls short of the standard required. The rules are mostly already there but Old Bill prefers to be engaged elsewhere.
I have lost count, of how many reports into devolving the justice system in our favour, have been made public. As I have said in the past, we are long past the time for asking, as we all know what the answer will be. Cost will be the first thing thrown at us. Then, how it is easier to have one system for both Cymru and England, and of course London will cling to any bit of power they still have over us, whilst eroding the little we have. We need to stand up and take these thing ourselves, and… Read more »
This is just a rehash of things suggested and tried many times. If devolution of justice would help then great go for it but I personally cannot see it making any difference.
The Devolution of Criminal Justice to Wales should not be dependent soley on results. Welsh Law overseen by an English Criminal Justice system is itself an injustice. Power & policy should be made by a minister in the Welsh Government, as it is in Scotland & NI, not be dictated by a Tory Home Secretary in London.
How unreal to claim priority to tackling violence against women can be via “prevention through tackling social challenges and rehabilitation, instead of a more punitive approach”.
Men are getting away with it 99% of the time. Are convictions and entries on the sexual offender register seen as “punitive”, to be relaxed further?
The great ‘social challenge’ is misogyny, but the Welsh Govt won’t mention it in their devotion to degendered Stonewall language. Jane Hutt is, sadly, one of the worst.
Agree 100%. We have a foreign government in charge of Wales’ judiciary system who are full of pedophiles, rapists and sexual predators. We have CRIMINALS in charge of our countries justice system.WTF?
Clywch clywch, and to add, they have become so brazen they even watch porn in the house of commons.
If I were the Welsh Government I’d prepare now for these powers to be devolved. They are doing similar with the increase in Senedd members from 60 to 96 in time for the next Senedd Election in 2026. These Criminal Justice powers will eventually be devolved to Wales. The insular Anti-Welsh Tories can whine all they like but they cannot stop the political tide of progress in Wales.
Recently it was said how the Welsh Conservatives needed to be more Welsh due an identity problem. And what was their response to recent Welsh Government calls to devolve Criminal Justice powers to Wales to cut prison numbers? Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said that the Welsh Government, and I quote: “Were “pandering to Nationalists” and “under Boris Johnson there will be no more devolution to Wales”. There’s you answer and the reason Andrew RT Davies & Welsh Conservatives are seen as an Anti-Wales Anti-Welsh party.
Good. The more of our own lives we have control over the better. We are Cymru, not “and Wales”. Laws made for the benefit of OUR nation