Senedd Bites #51: Wales’s extraordinary imprisonment rate

(Title Image: Daily Post)

Wales has one of the highest imprisonment rates in Europe

Research by the Wales Governance Centre has revealed that Wales – with 154 prisoners per 100,000 people – has one of the highest imprisonment rates in Europe. England’s figure was 141 per 100,000 and Scotland’s 135.

The research also found that certain groups, such as non-white offenders, were over-represented in the prison population, while women were far more likely to receive a short custodial sentence than women in England. Wales currently has no women’s prisons.

The high figures were despite Wales consistently having a lower crime rate than England.

Prime Minister in embarrassing climb-down over 1997 devolution referendum “lie”

In an embarrassing series of events for the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, she was forced to drop a passage in a final speech calling for MPs to back her Brexit agreement which suggested that the 1997 Welsh devolution referendum outcome was accepted despite a close result.

The speech said: “When the people of Wales voted by a margin of 0.3%, on a turnout of just over 50%, to endorse the creation of the Welsh Assembly, that result was accepted by both sides and the popular legitimacy of that institution has never seriously been questioned.”

Not only did this get the winning margin wrong (it was actually 0.6%), the Conservatives had campaigned in the 2005 UK General Election with a manifesto pledge to hold a referendum including the option of abolishing the Assembly. It was also revealed she had personally voted against legislation establishing the Assembly.

£20million cybersecurity centre for Ebbw Vale

French defence corporation Thales has announced plans to open a £20million research and development centre for cybersecurity systems in Ebbw Vale. New systems would be designed at the centre meaning the valuable part of the business – the intellectual property – would remain in Wales.

Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South) said the project – which forms part of the Tech Valleys initiative – “will help ensure that Wales exploits the global opportunities of digital transformation, provide a base for ground-breaking research and will equip businesses of all shapes and sizes with the skills and knowledge they need to win a greater share of large regional and national projects”.

Tawel Fan “still requires improvements”

The lead reviewer into failings in the Tawel Fan mental health ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd wrote to the Health Minister to say that improvements were still needed.

Donna Ockenden said, “My concern is that the Betsi Cadwaladr board and senior management team within mental health….do not currently have the capability and capacity to deliver upon the root and branch systemic review that is needed to make older peoples mental health services better for staff to work in, for vulnerable patients to receive care in and for carers to feel supported in.”

Her offer to oversee the health board out of special measures was rejected by the Health Minister.

Delyth Jewell returned as Plaid Cymru AM

Delyth Jewell has been returned as regional member for South Wales East following the death of Steffan Lewis. She was second place on the regional list for the 2016 Welsh General Election.

At the time of her appointment, Delyth was a women’s’ rights campaigner for charity Action Aid and has previously worked as a parliamentary researcher and for the Citizens Advice Bureau.