MPs have rejected a move to ensure the UK Government would have to consider the impact of its controversial policing bill in Wales. 

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has been criticised for placing new curbs on protest, passed its third reading in the House of Commons last night. 

But a Plaid Cymru bid to make sure the UK Government consider the impact of the bill on policies that are the responsibility of the Welsh Government was rejected. 

Though powers over policing and the courts in Wales are held by Westminster the Welsh Government is responsible for a host of linked issues including prisoners’ education, mental health services and how to tackle substance abuse. 

Both Plaid and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have hit out over the Conservative government’s rejection of the amendment which was supported by Labour in last night’s vote. 

Plaid MP Hywel Williams, who put forward the proposal, said its dismissal strengthened the case for the devolution of justice powers. He also claimed the bill will undermine the Welsh Government’s efforts to use its powers over social policy to reduce the numbers entering the criminal justice system. 


The Arfon MP said: “The Tories’ reluctance to address the impact of their own policies on the people of Wales is disappointing but not surprising given this Government’s recent attacks on devolution. 

“Tonight’s vote has made the case for fully devolving powers over justice stronger than ever. It is only then that we can build a truly rehabilitative justice system that puts compassion at its heart.” 

During the debate Plaid, which has opposed the policing bill, rejected the government’s submission that a Westminster controlled justice system works well for the people of Wales. 

The MP told the Commons: “Wales has the highest rate of imprisonment in western Europe. Black people are six times more likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts. Nearly half of Welsh children who are imprisoned are detained in England, far from their homes. There is a chronic lack of community provision for women. Apparently, that is serving the 'people of Wales well'."

He reminded MPs that the Thomas Commission had concluded justice should be devolved “so that it aligns with its distinct and developing social, health and education policy and services and the growing body of Welsh law”. 

The amendment was defeated with 366 MPs voting against and 220 in favour. 

Jane Dodds, the Welsh Lib Dem Member of Senedd for Mid and West Wales, said she was disappointed MPs had rejected the plan which would have required an assessment on how the act impacts Welsh Government responsibilities. 

She said: “Giving powers over justice to the Senedd would allow us to better respond to the distinct issues we face here in Wales. With these powers we could create a fairer criminal justice system, which focuses upon rehabilitation, and develop a strategy to tackle the rising rates of rural crime.” 

When the amendment was discussed at the committee stage Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins said the government would work with all concerned in Wales over implementation of the bill and she hoped those assurances would allow Williams to withdraw his amendment. 

If you value The National's political journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.