At the end of the day, the Welsh people should have a simple democratic right to have a greater say in something fundamental to civilised community life such 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.
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 way our country is policed to be made, reviewed, revised and changed here in Wales.
The recent Con Dem and Conservative cuts will continue to shape policing and set the policing agenda here in Wales for the next twenty years. At a very basic level policing decisions in Wales need to reflect the needs and concerns of our communities, not the cost cutting agenda of the current Conservative Prime Minister (and previous Home Secretary) and the Ministry of criminal justice in London.
Plaid Cymru has rightly pledged to “stop the thin blue line from breaking” and to boost funding for the Welsh police forces. The party’s Home Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts, has pledged to boost police funding in Wales by devolving policing to Wales.
The Westminster Government last year delayed the introduction of a new funding formula for forces in Wales and England after a “statistical error” was discovered. Once this new funding formula is introduced, the Welsh police forces will be £32 million a year worse off.
The devolution of policing would mean the Welsh police forces would be exempt from the Tories’ planned £32 million cut to their budgets and would lead to 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.
Our police forces are in favour of devolution, as are all four of the Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales. 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.
It is worth noting that there are 19,704 fewer police officers in Wales and England since the Tories took office in 2010. It is also worth noting that the Scottish police force has been exempt from Tory cuts due to the fact that effective control of policing has been long devolved to Scotland.
Number of police officers in England & Wales statistics: