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Welsh Government renews calls for devolution of policing

1 February 2023

The Welsh Government has renewed its calls for policing to be devolved after admitting its powers to monitor standards and investigate allegations of misconduct were “very limited” under the existing system.

The issue arose during a plenary session of the Senedd when Counsel General and minister for the constitution Mick Antoniw was questioned about the Government’s response to claims made against Gwent Police.

Mr Antoniw said: “Police conduct is an issue we take extremely seriously. However, policing is currently reserved to the UK Government so it is not the role of the Welsh Government to hold or lead an inquiry into police practice.

“Although policing is not devolved, there is a close relationship, we meet with the democratically elected Police and Crime Commissioners and the minister for social justice meets very regularly to discuss a range of those issues - the anti-racism action plan, issues around diversity, all the issues in which policing interacts with various devolved Government responsibilities.

“That is one of the reasons why we want policing devolved because it is logical, it makes sense to do it and every elected Police and Crime Commissioner agrees that it should happen. I believe that one day it will happen.”

Mr Antoniw said the Welsh First Minister and minister for social justice had held meetings with Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Geoff Cuthbert and Chief Constable Pam Kelly in November and December when concerns were raised about issues within their Force.

He said Senedd Members and MPs had also received multiple briefings from Gwent Police.

“Obviously we will have to wait and see what further steps are taken as a matter of interest to us but we are restricted in the specific things that we can do because of the lack of devolution of policing,” said Mr Antoniw.

He told the Senedd there were clearly serious weaknesses in the system that had been exposed “time and time again”.

Mr Antoniw added: “I think it adds reinforcement to the view that we have that the devolution of policing is the logical step that should take place because it fits within a whole range of policies that we are engaged with - that the police on the ground are actively engaged with - whether it’s domestic abuse, sexual abuse, assault or domestic violence.

“All those sorts of issues, and many other social issues, are part and parcel of the broad range of policing and the services and responsibilities that we have.”

Police Federation Welsh lead Nicky Ryan said she was in regular contact with politicians from all sides.

“Obviously we take note of any discussions in the Senedd which affect policing and keep a very close eye on developments,” she said.

“The Police Federation is politically neutral so does not have a position on the possibility or likelihood of policing becoming a devolved power but takes a keen interest in such issues.”