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Written Statement - Justice Policy in Wales

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Alun Davies, Cabinet Secretary for Local Government & Public Services

The Commission on Justice in Wales, established by the First Minister, will consider the question of devolution of policing and the criminal justice system and how such a system should operate in Wales. We will await the conclusions of the Commission.

In the meantime, there are increasing challenges of managing demand for public services from those in the criminal justice system, or those affected by having a family member in the system. Whilst the overall responsibility for criminal justice rests with the UK Government, the system in Wales is facing challenges.

I am concerned that without a meaningful an in-depth discussion with the UK Government, we will continue to see increasing demand on Welsh public services and poorer outcomes for people in the criminal justice system in Wales. I am particularly concerned that some of the men and women in Wales who are sent to prison, are not receiving the services and support they need to ensure that they can be effectively rehabilitated and supported not to re-offend.

Whilst we wait for the Commission on Justice to reach its conclusions, we need to press ahead with developing a different and distinct delivery approach that reflects the needs of people in Wales, but is also more closely aligned with our public services and policy approaches in Wales.

This includes gaining a better understanding of why people end up in prison and what we could do to prevent many people being sent to prison, often for short sentences that have a devastating impact on their lives.

Until we have considered this in more detail and had more detailed discussions with the UK Government, I do not believe it is in the interests either of the Welsh Government or people in Wales, to see further prison development in Wales. I have therefore written to the Secretary of State for Justice to inform him that until a more meaningful dialogue with the Welsh Government takes place, we will not facilitate the further development of prisons in Wales.

I will keep Members informed as any discussions with the UK Government progress.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.