Plaid Cymru has called for Wales to have full powers over criminal justice after the Westminster Government announced yesterday that probation services in England and Wales are to be fully restored to public ownership and control.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Justice and Equalities Leanne Wood MS had called the original decision to part-privatise the service a “disaster” and that says it’s time to “wake up” now that the “privatisation dream has been shattered.”
Yesterday, UK Justice Secretary announced the complete return of probation services in England and Wales to the public sector. This means that offender management, rehabilitation and unpaid work will all be brought under the control of the National Probation Service (NPS), ending the privatisation reforms in 2014.
Leanne Wood MS said that “sense had finally prevailed”.
Criminal justice campaigner Nadine Marshall, whose 18-year-old son Conner was beaten to death in Porthcawl in 2015 by an attacker who was on probation at the time, welcomed the news but said she was “angry” it had taken so long for change to happen.
Ms Wood added that with the highest incarceration rates in western Europe, and the numbers of prisoners dying from substance abuse reaching an all-time high, “the English criminal justice system is just not working” for Wales.
Ms Marshall echoed Plaid Cymru’s call for full powers over criminal justice “so that no more families should have to suffer like mine,” in the “gone wrong experiment” of the English justice system.
Leanne Wood MS, Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Justice and Equalities, said: “Sense has finally prevailed. The privatisation of the probation service was a disaster. Nearly half of adults released from prison re-offend and end up back in prison within the first year. This cycle of crime has a devastating impact on Welsh communities and we have to ask - how many other lives have to be lost before the probation service is sorted out?
“As the Thomas Commission on devolving justice found, people in Wales are let down by the system in its current state. The English criminal justice system is just not working. If Wales was running its own criminal justice system, we could have a focus on reducing harm and improving outcomes.
"The privatisation dream has been shattered, and now it’s time to wake up.
“We may never understand the true extent and cost of the decision to part privatise the probation service, but we have the opportunity to bring back the control to Wales, to the benefit of all in Wales.”
Nadine Marshall said: “I’m still angry that it has taken so long for change to happen, but it we don’t see fundamental changes to our prison services and the way that probation is managed, nearly half of all people released from prison will go on to reoffend. I don’t want to live like that.
“I’m sad for all the families who have had to suffer like mine, and I’m terrified that more families will suffer personal tragedy at the hands of someone on probation, in this ‘gone wrong’ experiment of the UK criminal justice system.
“We know the system is broken and if Wales had control, we could change it so that we know longer have the risk of this broken system hanging over our heads.”