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‘Fascinating read’: new book puts spotlight on Welsh CJS

6 November 2022

A new book exploring how the Welsh criminal justice system operates between two governments with opposing views makes for fascinating reading, according to Police Federation Welsh lead Nicky Ryan.

The Welsh Criminal Justice System: On the Jagged Edge was written by Cardiff University academic Robert Jones and Director of the Welsh Governance Centre Professor Richard Wyn Jones and is based on official data and in-depth interviews.

The book takes its title from the “jagged edge” of devolved and reserved powers and responsibilities across which the Welsh criminal justice system is forced to operate.

Nicky, who attended the book’s official launch in Cardiff, said it posed some very challenging questions about how the system worked.

She said: “The book asks how can you make joined-up criminal justice policy when you have two different governments with different visions.

“It is the first book of this kind that starts to ask those questions and it certainly starts to open up an understanding of the problems Welsh policing has to deal with as part of a distinct Welsh criminal justice system which itself falls within the criminal justice system of England and Wales.

“There are bound to be conflicts and tensions and the book does an excellent job of highlighting those differences and difficulties

“I found it a really interesting book and I think it is the only one written that explores criminal justice in Wales in this way. Whether or not your views support the devolution of justice, it  enhances and challenges your thoughts about the issue.”

The book’s authors said Wales was the only common law country in the world to have its own parliament and government but not its own justice system and this effectively contradicts the democratic principle that presumes an alignment of the legislature, executive and judiciary.

Wales has a powerful government and parliament but shares its criminal justice system with London and so there is almost conflict when the Welsh Government tries to implement policies within a system over which it has no control.