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Isherwood: Consultation essential on Welsh police reform

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"The Home Secretary is trying to force through the biggest reorganisation in 30 years, despite the fact that the Prime Minister said just the other week that it was not a question of forcing amalgamations through.

He added that 'many different things could happen, including forces coming together for certain strategic tasks that they are better able to fulfil on a common, rather than singular, basis'.

However, the Home Secretary seems to have dismissed out of hand the cheaper and less-destructive option of sharing services, despite the fact that this has been supported by the Association of Police Authorities. I cite, for example, the joint firearms unit between North Wales Police and Cheshire Police.

I welcome many points in your report. However, I contest the reference to the voluntary merger of police forces. It is a merger whereby a political pistol is being pointed to their heads. It would be interesting to know what would happen were they to say 'no'.

I welcome your statement that the future arrangements for Wales will now allow for all local authorities to be represented. That was a clear concern for all agencies on both sides of the argument.

I also welcome the recognition of the need for a sub-regional level of accountability in Wales, and look forward to hopefully participating in agreeing on a view on that matter in the Social Justice and Regeneration Committee.

I hope that it will include the consideration of co-operation with the fire and rescue service and the ambulance service at regional level and accountability at basic command unit and superintendent level, but also consideration of some strengthened formal accountability to local communities.

Under the Home Secretary's plans, I understand that we have been told that operational co-operation will continue to grow across the border. We also know that the Welsh forces were already collaborating on proposals to share corporate services.

In these circumstances, I struggle to understand what the purpose of this enforced merger is. We have the operational co-operation and the shared services, and yet we have to go through a hugely costly reorganisation.

The issue of civilian jobs was raised many times in previous contributions. It has not been referred to here, so I hope that you can shed some light on that, particularly in recognition of the fact that the police reform agenda should also be about changing working practices and cutting down on paper work that would give rise to opportunities for civilian jobs that might otherwise be threatened by these proposals.

Charles Clarke stated that the extra money needed to be found locally. Is that the case? He stated that extra sums added to council tax for policing would need to be equalised. Is that the case and has the decision already been made?

What will be the difference in precept between the different authorities and how will they be harmonised in Wales? How will we account for the five to 10-year timespan on savings, which we have been told about, and how will we deal with the matter such as the integration of computer systems, which will involve a massive infrastructure cost according to North Wales Police?"

"Mae'r Ysgrifennydd Cartref yn ceisio gorfodi'r broses ad-drefnu fwyaf ers 30 mlynedd, er gwaethaf y ffaith i'r Prif Weinidog ddweud yr wythnos diwethaf nad oedd hyn mor syml â gorfodi'r uniadau.

Ychwanegodd gallai sawl peth gwahanol ddigwydd, gan gynnwys heddluoedd yn uno ar gyfer tasgau strategol penodol y maent mewn sefyllfa well i'w cyflawni ar y cyd, yn hytrach nag ar eu pen eu hunain.

Fodd bynnag, ymddengys fod yr Ysgrifennydd Cartref wedi gwrthod yr opsiwn rhataf a llai dinistriol, sef rhannu gwasanaethau, yn llwyr, er gwaethaf y ffaith bod Cymdeithas Awdurdodau'r Heddlu wedi cefnogi hyn. Dyfynnaf, er enghraifft, yr uned arfau tân ar y cyd rhwng Heddlu Gogledd Cymru a Heddlu Swydd Gaer.

Croesawaf sawl pwynt yn eich adroddiad. Fodd bynnag, yr wyf yn gwrthwynebu'r cyfeiriad at y broses o uno heddluoedd yn wirfoddol. Mae'n broses uno lle y caiff dryll gwleidyddol ei bwyntio at eu pennau. Byddai'n ddiddorol gwybod beth fyddai'n digwydd pe baent yn dweud 'na'.

Croesawaf eich datganiad y bydd y trefniadau ar gyfer Cymru yn y dyfodol bellach yn galluogi awdurdodau lleol i gael eu cynrychioli.

Yr oedd hwnnw yn bryder amlwg ar gyfer pob asiantaeth ar ddwy ochr y ddadl. Croesawaf hefyd y ffaith y cydnabyddir bod angen lefel is-ranbarthol o atebolrwydd yng Nghymru, ac edrychaf ymlaen at gymryd rhan yn y broses o gytuno ar farn ar y mater hwnnw yn y Pwyllgor Cyfiawnder Cymdeithasol ac Adfywio.

Gobeithiaf y bydd yn cynnwys ystyried cydweithredu â'r gwasanaeth tân ac achub a'r gwasanaeth ambiwlans ar lefel ranbarthol ac atebolrwydd ar lefel uned gorchymyn sylfaenol ac ar lefel uwch-arolygydd, ond hefyd yn ystyried rhywfaint o atebolrwydd ffurfiol a atgyfnerthwyd o ran cymunedau lleol.

O dan gynlluniau'r Ysgrifennydd Cartref, deallaf ein bod wedi cael gwybod y bydd cydweithredu gweithredol yn parhau i dyfu ar draws y ffin.

Gwyddom hefyd fod yr heddluoedd yng Nghymru eisoes yn cydweithio ar gynigion i rannu gwasanaethau corfforaethol. Yn yr amgylchiadau hyn, mae'n anodd gennyf ddeall diben y broses uno hon a orfodwyd. Mae gennym y cydweithrediad gweithredol a'r gwasanaethau cyffredin, ac eto, rhaid inni wynebu proses ad-drefnu gostus iawn.

Codwyd y mater sy'n ymwneud â swyddi sifil sawl gwaith mewn cyfraniadau blaenorol. Ni soniwyd amdano yma, felly gobeithiaf y gallwch daflu rhywfaint o oleuni ar hynny, yn arbennig i gydnabod y ffaith y dylai agenda ddiwygio'r heddlu ymwneud â newid arferion gwaith a lleihau gwaith papur a fyddai'n arwain at gyfleoedd ar gyfer swyddi sifil a fyddai fel arall yn cael eu bygwth gan y cynigion hyn.

Nododd Charles Clarke fod angen dod o hyd i'r arian ychwanegol yn lleol. A yw hyn yn wir? Nododd y byddai angen cydraddoli symiau ychwanegol a gaiff eu hadio at y dreth gyngor ar gyfer plismona.

A yw hyn yn wir ac a wnaed y penderfyniad eisoes? Beth fydd y gwahaniaeth o ran y praesept rhwng yr awdurdodau gwahanol a sut y cânt eu cysoni yng Nghymru? Sut y byddwn yn cyfrif am y cyfnod o bum i ddeg mlynedd ar gynilion, y soniwyd wrthym amdano, a sut y byddwn yn ymdrin â materion megis integreiddio systemau cyfrifiadurol, a fydd yn golygu cost seilwaith anferthol yn ôl Heddlu Gogledd Cymru?"

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