A Consensus on Policing in Wales

15 February 2016

Welsh event at the Senedd

Policing in Wales is on the verge of potential change.

The future of Welsh policing was one of the topics of discussion at a reception held at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay last week. Current and prospective Welsh Assembly members, along with candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner met with police representatives from across Wales, at an event hosted by the Police Federation.

It was an opportunity for those with the power to change policing to meet and discuss possible ways forward, with representatives of the officers on-the-street that such changes would affect.

Leighton Andrews AM, the Minister for Public Services, who opened the evening, spoke highly of the work that police in Wales do.

“Their passion for their work and their commitment to do the best for the people of Wales is evident. We are very lucky to have such dedicated individuals to protect us.”

Mr Andrews spoke of the recently released Draft Wales Bill, which is under consultation, and that the Welsh Government are seeking to have policing become a devolved function.

“It can come as no surprise that we have long campaigned for policing to be devolved to the Welsh Government. We believe that as the only emergency service that is not currently devolved, there would be value in bringing responsibility for the Police to Wales. This would ensure even greater collaboration between the three services than currently exists.”

Will Riches, Vice Chairman of the Police Federation, said: “Policing faces an uncertain future, and the catalyst is down to government policy.

"The bedrock of policing is the independence of Office of Constable. This independence is vital in giving clarity and confidence to police officers and the work they do, as well as ensuring accountability to the public which they serve."

Mr Riches said there was a balance to be struck between the police and governments, both in Cardiff and London.

“For Welsh police, this balancing act is doubly difficult – operating a non-devolved service in a largely devolved political theatre. They must look towards two Governments and two policy administrators.

“The Federation itself has reviewed substantial evidence on possible ways forward for policing and Wales, and being guided by the evidence, concluded that policing could be devolved. Whether it will be, is down to the politicians and the evidence they have to hand.”

Mr Riches said: “With both the General and Police and Crime Commissions elections fast approaching, the Federation representatives both in Wales, and at headquarters, want to assist in helping candidates fully understand what we know is a complicated issue. Where we can we will speak to, discuss and debate with, brief and consult all those who are interested.”

The event was sponsored by the Welsh Assembly’s Deputy Presiding Officer, David Melding AM, who noted the importance of hosting such events to inform and advise all political parties of the realities of policing.

The Federation representatives took the opportunity to speak to the guests, from all political parties, on a wide range of issues that affect policing; the impact of funding cuts, the use of police cars as ambulances, mental health and the formation of a new Welsh Affairs sub-committee. They also discusses roads policing, child protection and police officer morale and retention.