Plaid Cymru has called for the Welsh Probation Service to become the responsibility of the Welsh Government rather than privatised under Westminster government plans.
Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood AM, a former probation officer, said that a Welsh way of dealing with crime would assist rehabilitation, while Justice spokesperson Elfyn Llwyd MP said that the privatisation plans showed the difference in values between Wales and Westminster.
The One Wales Government agreement between Plaid Cymru and Labour in 2007 agreed to “examine the devolution of criminal justice”.
Leanne Wood said:
“The changes proposed by the UK Government to privatise 70% of the probation service’s core work are against the strong public sector ethos of probation, which is about ensuring that former offenders can once again play a constructive role in their communities.
“Given the proposals, it would make sense if probation could follow a ‘Welsh way’ of dealing sensitively and properly with offenders, solving their problems to prevent future crime and looking at individuals’ wider situation.
“Rarely has the quality of a service been improved through privatisation, and, with the probation service, the risks are too high.
“Research shows that rehabilitation cuts crime. A Party of Wales Government would prioritise preventative intervention and non-custodial solutions where possible, within the public sector.
“I have long argued for the probation service in Wales to be devolved, with appropriate funding given to the Welsh Government. There is now an even greater reason to devolve it now – so that the probation service can operate by the public sector for the public good.
“In its’ second report, the Silk Commission must look very seriously at the full devolution of the whole of the criminal justice system to Wales.”
Plaid Cymru Justice spokesperson Elfyn Llwyd said:
“The Probation Service has long been under-funded and does not have the resources that it needs. Nevertheless it has still shown itself to be far more effective than short-term prison sentences in rehabilitating offenders.
"The service has met almost all of the targets set in the last few years and even been awarded a British Quality Gold Award for Excellence. So if it ain't broke, why fix it?
“This is an ideological choice by the Westminster Government which has no interest in either results, value for money or public safety – just lining private sector pockets.
“For all of those reasons, privatisation of the probation service in any way should be rejected.
“Once again this shows the world of difference between values at Westminster and in Wales and why the criminal justice system as a whole should be answerable to the people of Wales and directed by their set of values.”