‘Time for Wales to have powers over the police and to create a Welsh legal aid system’


AM at the Eisteddfod calls for development of a Welsh legal jurisdiction for Wales

On the Eisteddfod field today Simon Thomas AM will call for Wales to have powers over the police and will argue in favour of creating a distinct Welsh legal aid system.

These actions would be part of developing a Welsh legal jurisdiction. The call will come during a cross-party discussion on ‘What next for Welsh politics’ in the Societies’ Tent One at 2pm.

The AM for Mid and West Wales, Simon Thomas said:

“Giving Wales responsibility for the probation service, prisons and the police would be part of this first process of establishing a Welsh legal jurisdiction.

“This would be in accordance with the commitment of the four Welsh police forces, who have already stated that they want to operate on the basis of a Welsh national system and want to facilitate the move towards a devolved police system in Wales. Recommendations are being made in Westminster now to establish elected police commissioners, an idea that has not had a great deal of welcome in Wales. That perhaps gives us an opportunity to have this matter devolved to Wales, so that we do not have to go down the route of having elected commissioners.

“We need a new legal aid system for Wales. What is happening in Westminster in this regard is a disgrace, and we would certainly want to see this devolved so that we can establish a legal aid system that meets our needs in Wales.”

The Plaid Cymru AM added: “What would be the reasoning for this? First, it is to do with national pride and the journey of our nation. Secondly, the administration of justice goes hand in hand with jurisdiction. If you legislate, then you should have rights and responsibility over the criminal justice system in your country. Thirdly, it brings us in line with the other nations of the UK.”

Mr Thomas concluded: “We need to expand on the provision in Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 to include the administration of justice as a devolved area. We need powers over the administration of justice – not the law, but the administration to come to Wales.

“Secondly, responsibility for the administration of justice should be transformed to the Welsh Government and non-political and non-partisan Welsh legal officials should be established.

“We need to bring the existing laws of Wales, and those that we will make in future together to e-establish the Welsh statute book that was begun 10 centuries ago. The Government should bring Welsh legislation together – the first statute book for the first legislative Senedd – to make Welsh law clear and accessible to all.

“Wales is developing a legal personality. The spirit of Hywel Dda is walking the corridors of Ty Hywel and the Government must prepare the way ahead.”