One of Boris’s many pre election / Brexit promises to the electorate is to increase the number of police officers in Wales and England by 20,000. While many of our hard pressed communities would welcome an increase the number of Police officers, in the face of rising crime and thinning police numbers, its worth remembering that we are some 19,704 police officers in Wales and England down since the Tories (and their Liberal Democrat’s coat holders) took office in 2010.
No doubt Teresa May, the former Prime Minster and former Home Secretary, was too busy creating hostile climate, to actually oversea the ill thought out reduction in Police numbers. It’s also worth noting that the figures apply to Wales and England only, as the Scottish police force has been exempt from Tory cuts due to the fact that control of policing is devolved to Scotland, unlike in Cymru / Wales.
I have been long convinced that now is the time is right to devolve policing powers to the Welsh Government in Cardiff. Devolving policing powers would increase the accountability of the Welsh Government; strengthen the democratic process by allowing decisions, which directly impact on the Welsh people to be made, reviewed, revised and changed here in Wales.
At the end of the day, the Welsh people have a simple democratic right to have a greater say in something so fundamental to civilised community life as policing. This is already the case in Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and Manchester. Policing is only one side of the coin, to make devolved policing work, there is also a need to devolve control of criminal justice.
Fundamentally policing decisions in Wales need to reflect the needs and concerns of our communities, not the cost cutting agenda driven by previous Conservative Prime Minister’s (and a former Home Secretary) and the Ministry of Criminal Justice in London. Plaid Cymru has long campaigned rightly to “stop the thin blue line from breaking” and to boost funding for the Welsh police forces.
The full devolution of policing would have meant the Welsh police forces would have been exempt from the Tories’ planned £32 million cut to their budgets and would have benefitted from an additional £25 million through being funded through the Barnett formula meaning a total difference in Welsh police budgets of £57 million between Plaid Cymru and Conservative policy.
Back in 2017 Plaid Cymru called a vote on devolving policing during the passing of the Wales Bill through the Houses of Parliament. We should remember that given the choice of devolving Policing to Wales, the Conservatives voted it down and the Labour Party abstained.