Saturday, November 14, 2009

Should 'Policing' be devolved?

This article about the devolution of policing to the National Assembly in today's Western Mail interests me a lot. Downside is that it does make discussion about a referendum on devolving greater law making powers to Wales more confusing - just five days before Sir Emyr Jones Parry recommends that the Assembly Government 'goes for it' as soon as possible. Or so we are led to believe. Any referendum would be about policy areas that are already devolved - not about devolving new powers such as policing. I'm not necessarily against extending the range of devolved powers, but its an issue separate from the now anticipated referendum.

A few years ago, I was asked to explain myself to our group leader in the Assembly after being quoted in the Western Mail as 'not being personally opposed to devolving policing to the Assembly". Actually, it was no more than a casual conversation, but there had been complaints. I wonder whether these comments by Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling have caused any similar ripples. They shouldn't - because what he's quoted as saying in very sensible, and the same as I've always thought.

The principle that matters here is how policing can most effectively be carried out. I would take a lot of convincing that total devolution would be sensible. As crime and terrorism have become more international and sophisticated, effective liaison across international borders becomes more important. There will be an important continuing role for the Home Office. But a lot of policing issues could perhaps be better delivered by the National Assembly. All other emergency services are already devolved. Chris Grayling is right to take the pragmatic approach.

This last week has been a very good week for those of us who believe the Conservative Party should become the party of effective devolution - driven by a commitment to a stable British constitution. One aspect of my conservatism is about allowing decisions to be taken at the nearest level to the community as is practical. Seems to me its just common sense. Its all very encouraging.


Brian said...

Of course policing and justice should not be devolved to the Welsh assembly. Look at the Megrahi affair in Scotland. A disaster for the UK.

Wales and England are a single jurisdiction. They need a single policing and justice system. To suggest the Welsh Assembly have competence in this area is simply to pander to Plaid and the rest of the pro-devolution fanatics. It is a dangerous idea and I am sure a sensible Tory government will kick it into touch.

Glyn Davies said...

Brian - I share your view that Criminal Justice should not be devolved. Far too early to even think about it. But I do think consideration could be given to some aspects of policing - and that's all Chris Garayling is reported as saying.

Anonymous said...

It would be better to keep the matter centralized and not under the control of the Welsh Assembly. Policing and Justice need to be independent as possible and putting WAG in charge would court disaster.

Anonymous said...

Everything the Welsh Assembly touches turns to shit; I think Labour have too much power in the criminal justice system as it is. I know of one council ward in South Wales, where the four magistrates residing therein, and paid up card carrying members of the South Wales Stasi.

Unfortunately, JPs aren't subject to declaring their interests, which considering that they are publicly appointed is appauling!

Mike said...

It would be better if the representatives on police authorities were directly elected instead of local councilors. They would be more focused on police matters.

Glyn Davies said...

Mike - you make an interesting point, which i'm unsure about. A Conservative Government would want to introduce a level of direct election into the policing system, but would this happen in Wales, if part of the service were to be devolved@ I don't know.