Weaknesses in the justice system currently presiding over England and Wales could be addressed by creating a bespoke justice system for Wales, in line with the recommendations of a recent report calling for devolution of justice powers to Wales, according to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM.
An independent commission, chaired by Lord John Thomas of Cwmgiedd who, as former Lord Chief Justice, was once the most senior judge in England and Wales, recently said that Wales should have full control of its justice system – with powers to run policing, prisons and appoint its own judges.
The commission’s report also found that people in Wales are “let down by the system in its current state” and that, as well as switching funding, including for legal aid, it believes laws applying in Wales should be treated as being distinct from English law.
In response to a statement made by Welsh Government’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, today, Plaid Cymru AM for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth said:
“There are so many reasons why we should be embracing these recommendations placed before us. As lawmakers here in Wales, it’s important that we do become a Parliament, which is a legislative body that deals with the justice system, as a matter of principle.
“There are practicalities in terms of the difficulties that we face at the moment in delivering co-ordination between justice and the kind of policy that will influence the justice system. In Scotland and in England, they can form policy in a different context.
“But the main reason for proceeding to implement these recommendations is that the deficiencies that have been highlighted do impact upon real people’s lives here in Wales and the way in which the justice system deals with them. Be that in how we deal with women within the justice system, how we treat people from ethnic minorities within our justice system, or how we operate legislation within family courts in a way that is sensitive to the needs of our young people and children here in Wales.”
“We have an opportunity here in Wales now to address those weaknesses, which are so well known to many people working within the justice system, and to work in a way that, for the very first time, allows us to formulate a system that is sensitive to the needs of the people of Wales specifically.”