North Wales’ policing boss is to take his fight for police powers to be devolved to Wales to the very top.
Arfon Jones, the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, is to represent Wales on the National Criminal Justice Board, which oversees the criminal justice system.
He will join Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke, Attorney General Jeremy Wright and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on the body set up by the Government five years ago to improve the justice system in England and Wales.
Mr Jones said: “I’m delighted to have been asked and especially with the developments around Criminal Justice in Wales at present and it is vital to have a strong voice for Wales on what is the most senior forum for justice.
“I am the second Police and Crime Commissioner on the board where the Chair of the Association of PCCs, David Lloyd, from Hertfordshire, also sits after succeeding my predecessor in North Wales, Winston Roddick.
“In Wales the First Minister has appointed Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd to head a commission to review the justice system and policing in Wales and I and the other commissioners in Wales are keen to see more responsibilities devolved to Wales.
“There is a lot happening around justice, such as disclosure issues, youth justice, the imprisonment of women, all of which need addressing, not to mention the situation in our prisons.
“I would like to see as much justice devolved to Wales as possible, either to the PCCs or to the Welsh Government.
“Youth justice is not devolved although everything else to do with children and young people in Wales is and they and other areas devolved to the Welsh PCCs operate quite effectively.”
Although not legally devolved many of the other areas of the criminal justice system, like the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts service, already operate with all-Wales structures.
Mr Jones, a former Inspector in North Wales Police, said that all four Welsh commissioners believe policing should be completely devolved to Wales and he added: “It’s only a matter of time before it is, but we need to convince the Secretary of State Alun Cairns of that and up till now we haven’t had much success.
“In terms of the devolution it is now just a matter of when so as Police Commissioners we are preparing the ground because when it does happen it’s likely to happen overnight.
“It would make sense if criminal justice was totally devolved as well in the same way it is in Greater Manchester where policing and criminal justice are the responsibility of the mayor Andy Burnham.
“If they can do it in Manchester why not in Wales.
“But in the meantime I intend to be a strong voice for Wales on the Criminal Justice Board.
“Now is the right time for policing to be devolved to Wales.
“The case can be made and the benefits are clear as so many services have already been devolved.
“There is already a growing body of law and a wider plan for protection emanating out of Cardiff Bay – the vital bit that is missing is policing.”