Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

Isherwood: Effective local policing in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"By endorsing 'Closing the Gap', the Home Secretary loaded the dice. Wales can have any outcome provided that it is the outcome that meets his criteria, namely having an integrated single Welsh police force.

As the Welsh police authorities told us, this is being driven by a political imperative. Virtually every organisation that gave evidence to the committee criticised the timescale, and the Welsh Local Government Association went as far as to describe it as 'lunatic'.

It is therefore to the credit of the Social Justice and Regeneration Committee that it has refused to recommend any of the four options put forward by the police authorities and the chief constables of Wales.

Some committee members have stated that they do not consider the consultation's undertakings to have been a meaningless exercise, although many hold a contrary view.

As North Wales Police Authority stated, before any meaningful consultation among the people of north Wales has taken place, the Home Office has decreed unilaterally that the north Wales force will be subsumed into an all-Wales entity. However, a week is a long time in politics, and what appears certain one week may well appear less certain the next.

I hope that that is right, although we cannot ignore recent statements by the Home Office and the Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain, which suggest that the UK Government has already made up its mind that Wales will have a single police force.

Rather than conducting a consultation, the Home Secretary appears to have presented our chief constables with an ultimatum, with the most fundamental restructuring of Britain's police forces to be rushed through in a matter of weeks and with the proposed outcome strangely modelled on the 10 Euro-regions of England and Wales rather than on operational effectiveness and reality.

The Home Secretary states that the minimum number of officers a force can have is 4,000, or 6,000 staff in total. Where is the evidence base for this? As the WLGA told us, this is a subjective view and one that is not being pursued by the Scottish Executive.

Almost all the population of Wales lies along the M4 and A55 corridors, and it is separated, as the report states, by a vast expanse of rural hinterland, geography, history, transport links and different policing requirements. Some have suggested that North Wales Police should combine with forces in north-west England.

However, the only credible option, which came from the North Wales Police Authority, called instead for the development of a closer partnership arrangement with the Cheshire constabulary, or, by definition, its successor.

This recognises the operational reality that: Operation Tarian, used by Welsh police forces to combat illegal drug use, excludes north Wales; that at the time of the Caia Park riots in Wrexham, North Wales Police was supported by officers from Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester, but not south Wales; that at the time of the Warrington bombings a few years ago, North Wales Police supported Cheshire Police on the ground; that because north Wales is the entry point for those travelling from Ireland and north-west England, North Wales Police has a long history of dealing with organised and serious crime and terrorism; and that North Wales Police Authority believes that a budget increase of as little as £3 million would allow it to meet the service levels specified by the Home Secretary. We need time to explore this.

This figure contrasts with the additional all-Wales annual cost identified by the police authorities of up to £57 million, plus the up-front costs.

We are also told that it could take 10 years to generate savings that would fund the reorganisation. As we have heard, we must consider the impact on council tax and the consequences of levelling up or down police precepts if forces were to merge.

This reinforces the argument put forward by the Police Federation and others for a royal commission on policing to be set up, which would include an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of community safety officers.

Local accountability must be assured and all local authorities must be represented on any resultant national police authority. Denbighshire County Council stated that if separate police forces cannot be retained each basic command unit should also have a statutory board, including representatives of community councils.

Her Majesty's Court Service stated that were there to be a single all-Wales force that would require regional, operational sub-divisions.

Clearly, I welcome the committee's recommendation that the headquarters of an all-Wales police force be located in north Wales, but our chief constables are already discussing proposals for shared, back-office services that need not be centralised at one location and which recognise that operational integration between north and south Wales has never and can never truly exist.

Furthermore, every opportunity must be taken to liberate police officers from paperwork, thereby creating employment opportunities for police staff whose jobs may otherwise be threatened.

I refer briefly to statements within the report concerning the desirability and inevitability of the devolution of police services to Wales. Wales must be recognised as a nation and not just another region.

There must be greater consultation between the Home Office and the National Assembly for Wales on policing matters. However, we must recognise that policing in England and Wales has been integrated and interdependent since the Assembly's inception and that joint policing at organised crime and terrorism level 3 is best done at the UK level.

Effective co-operation between North Wales Police and bodies such as North Wales Fire and Rescue Service already exists, and makes a mockery of the claim that only devolution will facilitate this."

"Drwy gymeradwyo 'Cau'r Bwlch', mae'r Ysgrifennydd Cartref wedi dylanwadu ar y canlyniad. Gall Cymru gael unrhyw ganlyniad ar yr amod mai'r canlyniad sy'n bodloni ei feini prawf ef ydyw, sef cael un heddlu integredig yng Nghymru. Fel y dywedodd awdurdodau'r heddlu yng Nghymru wrthym, caiff hyn ei lywio gan orchymyn gwleidyddol.

Beirniadwyd yr amserlen gan bron bob sefydliad a roddodd dystiolaeth i'r pwyllgor, ac aeth Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru mor bell â'i disgrifio fel 'gwirion'.

Felly mae er clod i'r Pwyllgor Cyfiawnder Cymdeithasol ac Adfywio ei fod wedi gwrthod argymell unrhyw un o'r pedwar opsiwn a gyflwynwyd gan awdurdodau'r heddlu a phrif gwnstabliaid Cymru.

Mae rhai aelodau o'r pwyllgor wedi nodi na fu'r gwaith ymgynghori yn ymarfer diystyr yn eu barn hwy, er bod llawer yn arddel barn groes. Fel y dywedodd Awdurdod Heddlu Gogledd Cymru, cyn i unrhyw ymgynghoriad ystyrlon ymhlith pobl y gogledd gael ei gynnal, mae'r Swyddfa Gartref wedi deddfu'n unfrydol y caiff Heddlu Gogledd Cymru ei gynnwys mewn un endid i Gymru gyfan.

Fodd bynnag, mae wythnos yn amser hir mewn gwleidyddiaeth, a gall yr hyn sy'n ymddangos yn sicr mewn un wythnos ymddangos yn llai sicr yr wythnos ganlynol. Gobeithiaf fod hynny'n iawn, er na allwn anwybyddu datganiadau diweddar gan y Swyddfa Gartref ac Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru, Peter Hain, sy'n awgrymu bod Llywodraeth y DU eisoes wedi penderfynu y bydd gan Gymru un heddlu.

Yn hytrach na chynnal ymgynghoriad, ymddengys fod yr Ysgrifennydd Cartref wedi cyflwyno wltimatwm i'n prif gwnstabliaid, gyda'r gwaith mwyaf sylfaenol o ailstrwythuro heddluoedd Prydain i gael ei ruthro drwodd mewn wythnosau a chyda'r canlyniad arfaethedig wedi ei fodelu'n rhyfeddol ar 10 rhanbarth Ewro Cymru a Lloegr yn hytrach nag ar effeithiolrwydd a realiti gweithredol.

Noda'r Ysgrifennydd Cartref mai'r nifer leiaf o swyddogion y gall heddlu ei chael yw 4,000 neu 6,000 o aelodau staff i gyd. Ble mae'r dystiolaeth ar gyfer hyn? Fel y dywedodd CLlLC wrthym, mae hon yn farn oddrychol, ac yn un nad yw'n cael ei harddel gan Weithrediaeth yr Alban.

Mae poblogaeth Cymru bron i gyd ar hyd coridorau'r M4 a'r A55, ac fe'i gwahenir, fel y noda'r adroddiad, gan ehanger enfawr o gefnwlad wledig, daearyddiaeth, hanes, cysylltiadau trafnidiaeth a gofynion plismona gwahanol.

Mae rhai wedi awgrymu y dylai Heddlu Gogledd Cymru gyfuno â heddluoedd yng ngogledd-orllewin Lloegr. Fodd bynnag, galwodd yr unig opsiwn credadwy, a ddaeth oddi wrth Awdurdod Heddlu Gogledd Cymru, am drefniant partneriaeth agosach â heddlu Swydd Gaer, neu, drwy ddiffiniad, ei olynydd.

Mae hyn yn cydnabod y realiti gweithredol sef: bod Ymgyrch Tarian, a ddefnyddiwyd gan heddluoedd Cymru i wrthsefyll y defnydd anghyfreithlon o gyffuriau, yn eithrio'r gogledd; sef ar adeg terfysgoedd Parc Caia yn Wrecsam, cefnogwyd Heddlu Gogledd Cymru gan swyddogion o swydd Gaer, Glannau Mersi a Manceinion, ond nid de Cymru; ac ar adeg bomiau Warrington ychydig flynyddoedd yn ôl, cefnogodd Heddlu Gogledd Cymru Heddlu Swydd Gaer ar lawr gwlad; ac am mai gogledd Cymru yw'r pwynt mynediad i'r rhai sy'n teithio o Iwerddon a gogledd-orllewin Lloegr, mae gan Heddlu Gogledd Cymru hanes hir o ddelio â gangiau troseddwyr a throseddau difrifol a therfysgaeth; a chred Awdurdod Heddlu Gogledd Cymru y byddai cynnydd yn y gyllideb o gyn lleied â £3 miliwn yn caniatáu iddo fodloni'r lefelau gwasanaeth a nodwyd gan yr Ysgrifennydd Cartref. Mae angen amser arnom i ymchwilio i hyn.

Mae'r ffigur hwn yn cyferbynnu â'r gost flynyddol ychwanegol i Gymru gyfan a nodwyd gan awdurdodau'r heddlu o hyd at £57 miliwn, ynghyd â'r blaengostau. Dywedir wrthym hefyd y gallai gymryd 10 mlynedd i gynhyrchu arbedion a fyddai'n ariannu'r gwaith ad-drefnu.

Fel y clywsom, rhaid inni ystyried yr effaith ar y dreth gyngor a chanlyniadau codi neu ostwng praeseptau'r heddlu pe bai heddluoedd yn uno.

Mae hyn yn atgyfnerthu'r ddadl a gyflwynwyd gan Ffederasiwn yr Heddlu ac eraill i gomisiwn brenhinol ar blismona gael ei sefydlu, a fyddai'n cynnwys gwerthusiad annibynnol o effeithiolrwydd swyddogion diogelwch cymunedol.

Rhaid sicrhau atebolrwydd yn lleol a rhaid i bob awdurdod lleol gael ei gynrychioli ar unrhyw awdurdod heddlu cenedlaethol a gaiff ei greu yn sgîl hynny. Nododd Cyngor Sir Ddinbych os na ellir cadw heddluoedd gwahanol y dylai pob uned rheoli sylfaenol gael bwrdd statudol hefyd, yn cynnwys cynrychiolwyr cynghorau cymuned.

Nododd Gwasanaeth Llysoedd Ei Mawrhydi pe bai un heddlu i Gymru gyfan y byddai angen is-ranbarthau gweithredol.

Yn amlwg, croesawaf argymhelliad y pwyllgor y dylid lleoli pencadlys heddlu Cymru gyfan yn y gogledd, ond mae ein prif gwnstabliaid eisoes yn trafod cynigion ar gyfer gwasanaethau swyddfa gefn a gaiff eu rhannu nad oes angen iddynt gael eu canoli mewn un lleoliad ac sy'n cydnabod nad yw integreiddio gweithredol rhwng y gogledd a'r de erioed wedi bodoli mewn gwirionedd, ac na all byth fodoli.

Yn ogystal, rhaid manteisio ar bob cyfle i ryddhau swyddogion yr heddlu o waith papur, gan greu cyfleoedd swyddi i staff yr heddlu y gallai eu swyddi fod dan fygythiad fel arall.

Cyfeiriaf yn fyr at y datganiadau yn yr adroddiad ynghylch pa mor ddymunol yw datganoli gwasanaethau'r heddlu i Gymru a pha mor anochel yw hynny. Rhaid i Gymru gael ei chydnabod fel cenedl ac nid dim ond fel rhanbarth arall. Rhaid sicrhau gwell ymgynghori rhwng y Swyddfa Gartref a Chynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru ar faterion yn ymwneud â phlismona.

Fodd bynnag, rhaid inni gydnabod bod plismona yng Nghymru a Lloegr wedi cael ei integreiddio ac wedi bod yn rhyngddibynnol ers dyfodiad y Cynulliad ac mai'r ffordd orau o gyd-blismona troseddau cyfundrefnol a therfysgaeth lefel 3 yw drwy blismona ar lefel y DU.

Mae cydweithredu effeithiol rhwng Heddlu Gogledd Cymru a chyrff fel Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub Gogledd Cymru eisoes yn bodoli, ac yn gwawdio'r honiad mai dim ond datganoli a all hwyluso hyn."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech