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‘It’s a smokescreen’: Welsh Government trying to push through votes for prisoners during Coronavirus pandemic

Welsh Conservatives have reacted with shock at the announcement made today (April 1) by the First Minister that the Labour administration will push through legislation to change the local government election system, despite the continuing Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

In the statement, only enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds to vote is referred to, and any reference to votes for convicted prisoners has been omitted.

The enfranchisement of prisoners serving sentences of four years or less is controversial. Crimes attracting such sentences include*:

•                  Paedophilia

•                  Racially aggravated common assault

•                  Breach of a sex offender order

•                  Necrophilia

•                  Bestiality

•                  Ill-treatment of patients

 

Mark Isherwood, the Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:

“It’s a smokescreen, and frankly beyond belief that the Government in Wales is trying to push this through at this time.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has, realistically, barely begun and there are many, many more pressing matters that must take priority over getting this Bill into law and giving votes to prisoners.

“The Welsh Labour administration must focus all of its attention on supporting NHS Wales, supporting our frontline health and care staff, supporting and keeping safe the people of Wales, and keeping businesses going during this pandemic. 

“Nothing else supersedes this, and the people of Wales should remember that the Welsh Government here sees its vanity project to give votes to prisoners as a priority during the Coronavirus crisis.”

 

*Crimes punishable by a custodial sentence of four years or less include:

•                  Carrying of any offensive weapon in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

•                  Racially aggravated common assault

•                  Racially aggravated criminal damage

•                  Racially aggravated public order offence

•                  Racially aggravated harassment/putting another in fear of violence

•                  Administering drugs to obtain intercourse

•                  Procurement of a woman by threats

•                  Procurement of a woman by false pretences

•                  Ill-treatment of persons of unsound mind

•                  Causing or encouraging prostitution of, intercourse with, or indecent assault on girl under 16

•                  Sexual penetration of a corpse

•                  Breach of sex offender order

•                  Having an article with a blade or a sharp point in a public place without good reason or lawful authority. (An exemption applies to folding pocket knives with a blade of less than three inches).

•                  Unlawful marketing of knives as suitable for combat, or in ways likely to stimulate or encourage violent behaviour

•                  Procurement of a defective

•                  Intercourse with a defective

•                  Attempted incest by man with a girl over 13

•                  Inciting girl under 16 to have incestuous sexual intercourse

•                  Abduction of unmarried girl under 18 from parent

•                  Abduction of unmarried girl under 16 from parent

•                  Abduction of defective from parent

•                  Causing prostitution of women

•                  Procuration of girl under 21

•                  Detention of woman in brothel

•                  Permitting girl under 16 to use premises for intercourse

•                  Permitting a defective to use premises for intercourse

•                  Causing or encouraging prostitution of a defective

•                  Soliciting by men

•                  Keeping a brothel

•                  Ill-treatment of patients

•                  Sexual intercourse with patients

•                  Sex with adult relative: penetration

•                  Sex with adult relative: consenting to penetration

•                  Exposure

•                  Voyeurism

•                  Intercourse with an animal

•                  Affray

•                  Assault with intent to resist arrest

•                  Detention of woman in brothel or other premises

•                  Procuring others to commit homosexual acts

•                  Wanton or furious driving

 

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