Each of the major political parties in England and Wales are due to launch their general election manifestos over this week and next. As each manifesto is published, Clinks will be analysing and summarising the key commitments of relevance to criminal justice policy and the work of voluntary sector organisations working in criminal justice. We hope that this information will be useful to the sector in planning for the potential policies of the future government.
This blog outlines key policy commitments in the Plaid Cymru manifesto Wales It’s Us that will be of interest to voluntary organisations working in criminal justice.
Criminal justice is currently not a devolved policy area. The Plaid Cymru manifesto states:
“Plaid Cymru is committed to the devolution of policing and justice to Wales to empower us to implement and pursue policies that serve the interests of our citizens and communities. As argued by the Thomas Commission on Justice in Wales, this will allow us to create integrated people-centred services – from prisons to counselling to housing – to replace the present callous approach that prioritises targets over people’s needs.”
The manifesto outlines Plaid Cymru’s view that “Community-based interventions are more effective at reducing re-offending and social exclusion than short-term imprisonment. Short custodial sentences offer limited opportunities for rehabilitation and many people leave custody with the same underlying issues as when they entered.”
It argues that “a preventative approach across health, criminal justice, education and other settings is more effective in tackling youth offending.”
It commits to:
- Implement a long-term substance use harm reduction strategy focusing on harm reduction through a wide range of services and education programmes that treat problematic substance users as patients rather than criminals.
Plaid Cymru outline that they believe that “inmates should be placed as close to their local communities as possible.”
The manifesto states “poverty and poor health are being criminalised. This needs to change by ensuring that support services are well-funded and by tackling the underlying issues that can lead to criminality.”
Plaid Cymru commits to:
- Fully implement the recommendations of the Lammy Review to address the disparity of treatment and outcomes for black and minority ethnic people within the criminal justice system, together with the Angiolini Review on deaths and serious incidents in police custody.
- Use suspended sentences for those women who are charged with non-violent crimes, dampening the disruption caused to them and their family.
- Support a dedicated, small, prison or secure centres for female prisoners in Wales, to ensure access to family support networks as we accept that there will be occasions where a custodial sentence is appropriate and justified.
Plaid Cymru commits to:
- Recruit an extra 1,600 police officers – two for each community.
Health policy commitments in the manifesto include:
- Provide for a 5% increase in mental health expenditure every year for the next decade, doubling the amount we spend on a cumulative basis.
- Establish a 24/7 Mental Health Crisis service for those in acute distress, that will work alongside the emergency services.
- Continue to support whole population approaches towards improving the mental health of everyone and preventing illness through better education in schools, access to green spaces, and the tackling of stigma and discrimination experienced by so many.
- Seek to establish Welsh based specialist services for the small numbers who need acute inpatient treatment, building the facilities that are conducive to recovery.
- Invest in improving community mental health services, including creating more counsellors so that, where appropriate, alternatives to medication are available in all communities.
- Mental health professionals should be trained to deal with these inter-related and co-occurring conditions.
Plaid Cymru makes the following commitments:
- Focus on the small number of people with dependency and seek to address the underlying causes of their misuse via Checkpoint Cymru.
- Establish a National Commission on reforming drug law, exploring whether decriminalisation would allow more people to receive the treatment they need.
The manifesto commits to:
- Support the comprehensive and detailed plan to end Homelessness produced by Crisis
- Adopt a ‘housing first’ philosophy - as implemented in countries like Finland – to support those that are homeless. Recovery programmes are more successful after an individual has been housed. Being asked to be abstinent and/or sober whilst homeless prior to receiving housing is impractical.
- Abolishing the Vagrancy Act of 1824.
- Support an approach based on Centrepoint’s key principles to tackle youth homelessness. There should be a ‘single front door’ for young people to have a consistent and reliable place to access help. We will ensure that agencies coordinate their activities to respond to young people at risk.
As with justice, welfare is not fully devolved in Wales. The manifesto commits that:
- Plaid Cymru will press for welfare powers to be devolved including full control of Universal Credit.