As there seems to be some doubt over whether the devolution of policing to Wales is, or is not, Labour Party policy, I thought I would look more carefully at the subject.
Labour is a party that puts great store on its manifesto commitments. Being cynical, this is because there are often very different policy proposals within Labour, and because there are sometimes conflicts between what conference decides and what Labour leaders want. So the current definitive guide to what Labour's policy is on any issue relating to Wales is Labour's Welsh manifesto 2015, which is here.
These are the relevant quotes from it:
We will strengthen devolution once again, guaranteeing fair funding for Wales, as well as powers over policing, energy, transport and elections.
We will help make communities safer, by protecting and strengthening neighbourhood policing and will devolve to the Welsh Government the powers to shape the priorities and the governance structures for policing in Wales.
We will devolve powers over policing so that Welsh Ministers can devise an all-Wales policing plan to ensure it reflects Welsh priorities.
The Welsh Government has long demonstrated that locally made and locally accountable decision making is both more legitimate and effective. So we will give more powers to the Welsh Government, legislating early in the next Parliament to devolve to Wales powers outlined in the cross party Silk Commission, including on policing and elections, energy and transport.
This is not an absolutely unequivocal commitment to "devolve policing", but better interpreted as a commitment to devolve some powers over policing ... specifically so that Welsh ministers "can devise an all-Wales policing plan" and set up appropriate "governance structures for policing in Wales".
Some of us might well be concerned that this does not go far enough, and would like to see policing devolved in its entirety. That is a simple thing to say, but things are more complicated than that. The quote from page 62 of the manifesto commits Labour "to devolve to Wales powers outlined in the cross-party Silk Commission, including on policing ..." so it is worth looking to see what the Second Silk Report says. These are its precise recommendations on the subject:
R.24 On policing, we recommend:
a. policing and related areas of community safety and crime prevention should be devolved;
b. existing levels of cross-border police cooperation should be maintained;
c. powers in respect of arrest, interrogation and charging of suspects, and the general powers of constables, should not be devolved unless and until criminal law is devolved;
d. the National Crime Agency should not be devolved;
e. police pay should be devolved, but police pensions should not be devolved; and
f. the two Governments should agree charging systems and terms of service provision for the Police College, Independent Police Complaints Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and common services such as the Police National Computer system.
So it seems clear to me that Carwyn Jones is perfectly correct to say, as he did today in response to Andy Burnham, that Labour's policy is to devolve policing ... to the extent recommended by the Silk Commission.
To understand where the boundaries of what is and what is not devolved lie, this quote from David Hanson, Labour's shadow police minister in 2013, is useful:
"... but there are some really complex issues around this in relation to serious organised crime, counter terrorism, the legal system, justice, probation, which need to be examined in very great detail before such a major step would even be considered to be taken. It isn't just a simple matter of devolving policing to Wales because counter terrorism, serious organised crime, cross-border issues, much of the crime in my part of Wales derives from people who live in England."
Mr Hanson stressed that he was not arguing against the idea: "I'm just saying there are many challenges to this."
Remember that his contribution was made before Labour's policy was settled in the 2015 manifesto. Nonetheless, his points are valid, but easily answered. With regard to policing, things like serious organised crime, counter terrorism and border control would be handled on a UK-wide basis though the National Crime Agency, a body that was set up later that same year. This is how things already work in the Six Counties and (to a large extent) Scotland, and therefore explains why Silk II specifically recommended the NCA should not be devolved.