Wales needs to take control of youth justice, says police boss
A police boss is calling for youth justice to be devolved to Wales.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones spoke out following the appointment of the most senior judge in England and Wales to head up a review of how the justice system works in Wales.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who retires in October, will chair the Welsh Government’s Commission on Justice in Wales.
According to First Minister Carwyn Jones, there was a need to improve access to justice and to reduce crime with a system “truly representative of Welsh needs”.
At the moment Welsh courts are part of the same system and jurisdiction as England’s – and are under the control of Westminster, even though the Welsh Assembly has been able to legislate in some areas of policy since 2011.
“I welcome Lord Justice Thomas’s appointment following his distinguished service as Lord Chief Justice,” Arfon Jones said.
“Wales already has a distinct body of law and operates on an All Wales basis with a High Court and high-performing local jurisdictions.
“There are a number of issues which I would like to see as Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of North Wales Local Criminal Justice Board be devolved to Wales.
“Chief amongst them is the devolvement of Youth Justice which is the only children’s service in Wales that is not devolved.
“I would also like to see a law change whereby the Welsh Government would have more flexibility to introduce harm reduction measures for problematic drug use as they do with alcohol.
“I also believe that more victim and witness services should be devolved as we need to provide a Welsh language service, a priority that is rarely on the Ministry of Justice’s radar.”
The First Minister announced a commission to create a ‘distinct Welsh justice system’ on Monday.
The First Minister said: “In Wales, we have had a separate legislature for six years but, as yet, we do not have our own jurisdiction.
“By establishing the Commission on Justice in Wales, we are taking an important first step towards developing a distinctive justice system which is truly representative of Welsh needs.
Carmarthen-born Lord Thomas added Wales “offers unique opportunities to identify new solutions to the complex challenges facing justice and the legal profession”.