Justice and Jurisdiction project provides important and timely insights

Research being carried out at Cardiff University will help policymakers decide on the future of the Welsh justice system.

The Wales Governance Centre has secured backing from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Welsh Government for its Justice and Jurisdiction project. Led by Professor Richard Wyn Jones in collaboration with Dr Huw Pritchard and Dr Robert Jones, the research will contribute to the work of the Welsh Government’s Commission on Justice in Wales, which was established by the First Minister to review the operation of the country’s justice system.

Justice and Jurisdiction will be an interdisciplinary project bringing together political scientists, constitutional law experts and criminologists in order to investigate: the operation of the justice system in Wales; the relationship between non-devolved and devolved policies; and the impact of of a single ‘England and Wales’ legal system.

In recent weeks, the Centre has published, ‘Imprisonment in Wales: A Factfile’, a report by Dr Robert Jones, which presents a statistical overview of incarceration rates and locations of prisoners in or from Wales. The report attracted substantial media and political interest. It was debated in the National Assembly and cited by the House of Commons’ Welsh Affairs Committee inquiry into prison provision.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones commented: “We are delighted to have secured funding from ESRC and the Welsh Government for the Justice and Jurisdiction project. Wales is in an anomalous situation internationally in having an executive and legislature but no associated legal jurisdiction. This is due to the decision of successive UK governments to maintain the single ‘England and Wales’ jurisdiction and associated justice system.

“But the future of this dispensation is now being called into question. The Welsh Government and a majority in the National Assembly support the devolution of justice and the establishment of a Welsh jurisdiction - a view supported by the Labour Party in its 2017 Manifesto. This, as well as the establishment of the Commission on Justice in Wales chaired by the former Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, means that it’s a particularly opportune moment to be undertaking this research.

“As well as relishing the opportunity to impact on the work of the Commission and inform the wider public debate on these important issues, as a group of researchers we’re particularly excited by the genuinely inter-disciplinary nature of the project. It’s not often that political scientists get the opportunity to work so closely with criminologists and constitutional law experts. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”