Devolving responsibility for the criminal justice system to Wales could help reform the police, the brother of murdered private detective Daniel Morgan has said. 

Alastair Morgan has campaigned for more than 30 years to uncover the truth about his brother’s brutal death.

This summer a landmark report accused London’s Metropolitan Police of “a form of institutional corruption” for concealing or denying failings over the unsolved 1987 murder. 

The National Wales: Alastair Morgan. Photo: PAAlastair Morgan. Photo: PA

This week the force, and Commissioner Cressida Dick, came under further pressure following the whole-life sentence handed to Wayne Couzens for the rape and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who he had kidnapped by falsely arresting while a serving Met Police officer. 

The question of who polices the police - not only in terms of the behaviour of individual officers but forces themselves - is now under renewed scrutiny. 

Attitudes regarding sexism and misogyny and how police forces deal with crimes against women have also been highlighted. 

READ MORE: Police 'institutionally sexist', says Welsh Spycops victim

But Alastair Morgan, who as well as campaigning on, and investigating failings in the investigation of his brother’s murder in south London, has spoken out on other cases where police wrongdoing has been suspected, feels the British establishment has failed to seriously engage with the issue. 

While the Morgan family had been supported by individual MPs, they were too often met with indifference, disinterest and even hostility from government and the Home Office, which has responsibility for policing in England and Wales. 

The National Wales: Brothers Daniel (left) and Alistair MorganBrothers Daniel (left) and Alistair Morgan

London-based Alastair, who grew up with his younger brother in Cwmbran, said issues of police corruption are deep rooted but from his experience questions if the political will is there to tackle it. 

He told The National: “There is a huge cultural problem in the police and a kind of omerta that turns a blind eye. It is not just the leadership, it’s been going on decades, or even a hundred years. It’s a deeply rooted culture inside the police. 

“You can sack the commissioner, and I think she should go, but it won’t solve the problem because it goes much deeper and a new commissioner will come along from the production line. They are all very much of the same type.” 

READ MORE: Calls to 'defund the police' in Wales and what it means

The independent panel, that was established by then home secretary Theresa May in 2013 after years of campaigning by Alastair, found the Met’s first objective was to “protect itself” by failing to acknowledge its many failings in the case. Panel chairman Baroness Nuala O’Loan said concealing or denying failings was “a form of institutional corruption”. 

Met Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, was personally criticised by the panel, for her refusal to allow it to access the police data system, and the Met for a “lack of candour” and the “hurdles placed in the path of the panel”. 

Alastair is still angered at the response of the Met’s leadership. Last month he joined with other high-profile victims of police failings, including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, in penning an open letter to Boris Johnson urging for Dame Cressida to be replaced. 

Instead her contract was extended for a further two years. 

“They, the Met, are still ignoring the report into my brother’s case and I don’t know when the damn will crack. It is an institutional failure and a culture of cover up and omerta, the mafia code of silence,” said Alastair. 

READ MORE: Daniel Morgan's son calls independent report 'a national shame'

“Certainly in my brother’s case, reputation came before anything else. 

“I haven’t got the answers but I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole establishment willing to deal with it.” 

Dame Cressida’s leadership has now come under further scrutiny as critics have questioned if she is the right person to address institutional problems within the force. 

The National Wales: Commissioner Dick before preparing to make her statement to the media outside the Old Bailey in London, after Couzens was sentenced Picture: David Parry PA WireCommissioner Dick before preparing to make her statement to the media outside the Old Bailey in London, after Couzens was sentenced Picture: David Parry PA Wire

Labour MP Harriet Harman, the former women's minister, called on Dame Cressida to resign and wrote to the commissioner saying she did not believe it is possible for her to lead the actions required to rebuild confidence in the Met. 

In the wake of Couzens’ prosecution and the renewed questioning of how police respond to internal failings and problems Alastair said his fears that racism, homophobia and misogyny are “deeply rooted” in the police, with former officers having made similar comments in the media. He questions if there is a will to tackle them but says his experience is the police fail to address identified failings. 

He said he is “disgusted but not shocked” by the suggestion of further institutional failings that have come to light since Couzens’ arrest.  

As he believes fundamental reform is required of the governance of policing, the idea of placing responsibility for the police with the Senedd and the Welsh Government is one that should be considered. 

But he also acknowledged concerns at institutional failings have also been raised about the police in Wales. 

A number of high-profile miscarriage of justice cases occurred in the South Wales Police force area in the 1980s and 90s, including the case of the Cardiff Three, while campaigners have highlighted deaths following police custody in three cases in the South Wales and Gwent force areas this year alone.  

But Alastair thinks devolving criminal justice to Wales could be a useful reform. He said: “The police in Wales have had their scandals but I do think it’s probably a good idea to devolve those powers as a smaller country, like Wales, can keep a closer eye on it. 

“The Welsh Government would be nearer to the ground so I think it would be a good idea.” 

The National Wales: Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said powers to control justice, policing and prisons should be devolved to Wales as they are in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Photo: PALord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said powers to control justice, policing and prisons should be devolved to Wales as they are in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Photo: PA

In 2019 the Thomas Commission, which was headed by Lord John Thomas of Cwmgiedd who, as former Lord Chief Justice, was once the most senior judge in England and Wales, called for Wales to have full control of its justice system. 

That would see powers over the police, prisons, and the ability to appoint its own judges, held in Wales. 

This week counsel general Mick Antoniw said the government, in line with Welsh Labour’s manifesto commitment, will continue to push for justice powers to be transferred to Wales.

The UK government rejected the Thomas Commission’s recommendation in 2019 and isn’t expected to agree to the Welsh Government’s latest approaches when Cardiff Bay seeks to re-start talks which will also cover practical issues under the current constitutional arrangements. 

READ MORE: Scales of justice are imbalanced in Wales

At present elected police and crime commissioners are responsible for holding police forces and chief constables in Wales, and most areas of England, to account. 

The Home Office provides central government funding to police forces in Wales and England and is also responsible for attempting to reduce crime and action on crime including sentencing policy and legislation, that applies to Wales and England, such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Political oversight of the independent judiciary, for both countries, also rests with Westminster.  

READ MORE: Why is policing and justice not devolved?

There is an element of devolution of police governance in London, with its mayor having some powers related to the Met Police and its commissioner, though Alastair has been disappointed by Sadiq Khan’s support for Dame Cressida. 

Policing is under greater scrutiny than ever before and with the Welsh Government, and others in civic society, pushing for control over criminal justice there could be an opportunity to look again at policing in Wales.

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