Labelling the current situation as unacceptable, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and Liz Saville Roberts MP have renewed calls for powers over administration of the justice system to be devolved to Wales, adding that the current system is not the kind we need in Wales.
Following the recent announcement of Wales Governance Centre figures which showed Wales has the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe, Mr ap Iorwerth had a meeting with concerned solicitors at Caernarfon Crown Court yesterday regarding another issue facing the justice system in Wales – the difficulty people in rural areas have in reaching courts outside of their communities.
In 2016 four courts across North Wales were closed, including in Holyhead and Llangefni on Anglesey, Dolgellau in Gwynedd and Wrexham’s Tribunal and Hearing Centre.
This means that Mr ap Iorwerth’s constituents on Anglesey and Mrs Saville Roberts’s constituents in Dwyfor Meirionnydd have to travel to Caernarfon – some of whom don’t have access to cars, as well, and have to rely on public transport which isn’t always practical to reach a court for 9am on a given morning – and as such people are disadvantaged within the justice system.
Following his meeting at Caernarfon Crown Court, Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“We know there are problems with the justice system in Wales – we have a higher percentage of people being sent to prison here in Wales than anywhere else in the UK, therefore something has to change and I’m certain that justice being something that isn’t administered locally these days is a big part of the problem.
“People are disadvantaged in terms of their abilities to look after themselves within the justice system too, with cuts to legal aid being made, for example – austerity has attacked the justice system and somehow we must find a solution to this.
“Devolving powers over the justice system to Wales would be a significant step in the right direction. Let us in Wales decide how to run our justice system because the current situation is unacceptable. This is not the kind of justice system we need in Wales.”
Mrs Liz Saville Roberts MP said:
“Just locking people up does not solve the problem. We need a genuinely rehabilitative prison system to break the vicious reoffending cycle that many inmates fall into.’
“The National Assembly for Wales should take control of our justice system so that we can create one fit for the unique needs of our nation and not simply allow Westminster to impose its unsuitable policies.”