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Isherwood: Clarke's ultimatum on Welsh police reform

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"Charles Clarke has only given Welsh chief constables and police authority chairs until 24 February to indicate whether they are prepared to sign up to a so-called voluntary merger. This is arrogant, dictatorial and about as voluntary as birth, death and taxation.

He is forcing through the biggest police reorganisation in 30 years on a lunatic timescale, without proper debate, without a real assessment of how the proposals will affect local policing, and in defiance of the police authorities and Tony Blair's pledge that amalgamations would not be forced through.

The chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales has stated that we have structures and partnerships in place that should be built on and not swept aside.

The chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has voiced concern that there was so little time for consultation when such big changes were being considered.

The chair of North Wales Police Authority has stated that the Home Secretary has failed to demonstrate how scrapping North Wales Police would benefit the people of north Wales. He added that the Home Secretary has completely failed to answer important questions on funding and how he would propose to equalise council taxes across Wales.

He has also highlighted the spectacular errors that have led to a £180 million hole in the Home Office's own accounts, which were delivered so late and so flawed that the National Audit Office was unable to tell MPs whether they were correct. In this context, perhaps we should not be surprised that Mr Clarke's figures do not add up in terms of police restructuring.

Gwent Police Authority has criticised the speed of the merger process, stating that local taxpayers could face a £100 million bill if it goes ahead.

We now learn that the South Wales Police Authority has joined its counterparts in north Wales and Gwent in questioning the funding of the merger plans.

The Home Office has admitted that once the £125 million provided by the Government for all four proposed regional mergers was spent, extra money would need to be found locally.

As the chair of the North Wales Police Authority stated, what a shambles. Our chief constables were already discussing proposals for shared corporate services, and these proposals recognised that operational integration is not practical in an all-Wales context.

The points made reinforce the argument made by the police federation for a royal commission on policing. Even my own Labour MP is seeking an urgent meeting with Charles Clarke to discuss concerns that police resources in north Wales will be diverted south. I trust that Carl Sargeant will take note of this when he votes today.

The reality behind the rhetoric is betrayed by the breathtaking hypocrisy of a Home Office that has just announced a £150,000 cut in funding to North Wales Police for security checks at the port of Holyhead and Mostyn docks.

So, I say to the First Minister—or I would if he was here to show courtesy in relation to this critical matter—'You tell constable Clarke that his proposals are more Keystone than keynote, and to get out of his constabulary tower and back into his police box'."

"Mae Charles Clarke wedi gofyn i brif gwnstabliaid a chadeiryddion awdurdodau heddlu Cymru nodi cyn 24 Chwefror a ydynt yn barod i fod yn rhan o uniad a elwir yn un gwirfoddol. Mae hyn yn haerllug, yn orthrymus ac mor wirfoddol â genedigaeth, marwolaeth a threthiant.

Mae'n gorfodi'r ad-drefnu mwyaf yn hanes yr heddlu ers 30 mlynedd o fewn amserlen hurt bost, heb drafodaeth briodol, heb asesiad gwirioneddol o'r modd y bydd y cynigion yn effeithio ar blismona lleol, ac er gwaethaf awdurdodau'r heddlu ac addewid Tony Blair na fyddai'r uno'n cael ei orfodi.

Mae cadeirydd Ffederasiwn Heddlu Cymru a Lloegr wedi nodi bod gennym strwythurau a phartneriaethau y dylid adeiladu arnynt yn hytrach na'u hysgubo o'r neilltu.

Mae prif gwnstabl Heddlu Dyfed-Powys wedi mynegi pryder bod cyn lleied o amser i ymgynghori pan fo newidiadau mor fawr yn cael eu hystyried. Mae cadeirydd Awdurdod Heddlu Gogledd Cymru wedi nodi bod yr Ysgrifennydd Cartref wedi methu â dangos sut y byddai cael gwared ar Heddlu Gogledd Cymru o fudd i bobl y Gogledd.

Ychwanegodd fod yr Ysgrifennydd Cartref wedi methu'n llwyr ag ateb cwestiynau pwysig ar ariannu a sut y byddai'n cynnig cydraddoli trethi cyngor drwy Gymru. Mae hefyd wedi tynnu sylw at y camgymeriadau aruthrol sydd wedi arwain at ddiffyg o £180 miliwn yng nghyfrifon y Swyddfa Gartref ei hun, a gyflwynwyd mor hwyr ac mor wallus fel na allai'r Swyddfa Archwilio Genedlaethol ddweud wrth ASau a oeddent yn gywir.

Yn y cyswllt hwn, efallai na ddylem fod yn synnu nad yw ffigurau Mr Clarke yn cyfateb o safbwynt ad-drefnu'r heddlu.

Mae Awdurdod Heddlu Gwent wedi beirniadu cyflymder y broses uno, gan nodi y gallai trethdalwyr lleol wynebu bil o £100 miliwn os yw'n cael ei gweithredu.

Clywn yn awr fod Awdurdod Heddlu De Cymru wedi ymuno â'i gymheiriaid yn y Gogledd ac yng Ngwent i gwestiynu'r trefniadau ar gyfer ariannu'r cynlluniau uno. Mae'r Swyddfa Gartref wedi cyfaddef y byddai angen dod o hyd i ragor o arian yn lleol ar ôl i'r £125 miliwn a ddarperir gan y Llywodraeth ar gyfer y pedwar uniad rhanbarthol arfaethedig gael ei wario.

Fel y dywedodd cadeirydd Awdurdod Heddlu Gogledd Cymru, am lanastr. Yr oedd ein prif gwnstabliaid eisoes yn trafod cynigion ar gyfer rhannu gwasanaethau corfforaethol, ac yr oedd y cynigion hyn yn cydnabod nad yw integreiddio gweithredol yn ymarferol yng nghyd-destun Cymru gyfan.

Mae'r pwyntiau a wnaethpwyd yn cadarnhau'r ddadl a gyflwynwyd gan ffederasiwn yr heddlu am gomisiwn brenhinol ar blismona. Mae fy AS Llafur fy hun hyd yn oed yn ceisio cael cyfarfod brys gyda Charles Clarke i drafod pryderon y bydd adnoddau'r heddlu yn y Gogledd yn cael eu hailgyfeirio i'r De.

Hyderaf y bydd Carl Sargeant yn ystyried hyn pan fydd yn pleidleisio heddiw.

Datgelir y realiti sydd y tu ôl i'r rhethreg gan ragrith anhygoel Swyddfa Gartref sydd newydd gyhoeddi cwtogiad o £150,000 yn yr arian sydd ar gael i Heddlu Gogledd Cymru ar gyfer gwiriadau diogelwch ym mhorthladd Caergybi a dociau Mostyn.

Felly, dywedaf wrth y Prif Weinidog—neu byddwn yn dweud wrtho pe bai yma i ddangos cwrteisi mewn perthynas â'r mater hollbwysig hwn—'Dywedwch wrth gwnstabl Clarke fod ei gynigion yn fwy o Keystone na keynote, ac i ddod allan o'i dwr cwnstablaidd ac yn ôl i'w flwch heddlu'."

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