Commission should devolve youth justice to Wales, says PCC

Wales needs to take control of its own youth justice services during a wide-ranging review of policing and the justice system, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) believes.

Sep 20, 2017

Wales needs to take control of its own youth justice services during a wide-ranging review of policing and the justice system, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) believes. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, is chairing the Commission on Justice in Wales to learn more about how services might better reflect local needs. North Wales PCC Arfon Jones has asked the commission to consider devolution of youth justice – the only children’s service in the country that is still controlled by Westminster. He also asked for the Welsh government to be given more flexibility for introducing drug harm reduction measures, and for devolution of more victim and witness services. Mr Jones said: “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 to 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.” Although they are not legally devolved, many parts of the criminal justice system already operate individually in Wales. The majority of youth services, including education, health and social care, are overseen by the Welsh Assembly, but youth justice is managed by the Ministry of Justice. The Silk Commission was established in 2011 to review the potential for devolving fiscal responsibility and granting more powers to the Welsh Assembly. In 2014, it recommended devolution of policing in Wales in a similar manner to Scotland and Northern Ireland. It also proposed devolving youth justice and reviewing the devolution of criminal justice in ten years to see if it could be merited. Mr Jones, a member of Plaid Cymru, has previously claimed it is “only a matter of time” before policing is completely devolved to Wales. Lord Thomas said he hopes to make a “crucial contribution” to providing solutions to the challenges facing justice in Wales. First Minister Carwyn Jones 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. “The commission will consider how we can do things differently in Wales and identify options to develop a distinct Welsh justice system, which improves people’s access to justice, reduces crime and promotes rehabilitation.”

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