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Ministerial foreword

In May 2022, we published Delivering Justice for Wales. This was an opportunity for us to reflect and celebrate the many ways we are supporting people in Wales to get the best possible outcomes for the people of Wales from the justice system, as well as the significant remaining challenges. It was also an important starting point in terms of communicating a distinct and powerful vision for the future of justice in Wales.

We demonstrated through the activity set out in the Delivering Justice for Wales work programme the targeted support we have put in place to make a real impact on the justice system in Wales. This includes continued work with reserved partners to strengthen how the current system in Wales works and how further devolution is essential for the better delivery of justice.

We are pleased to publish this report to recognise the hard work that has taken place across the Welsh Government, public and third sectors to continue to deliver the best possible outcomes and to further advance our understanding for the future of justice in Wales.

Our ambition to build a strong and progressive justice system for Wales has not changed. Yet the unprecedented challenges we described previously have not eased. Despite the valiant efforts of all those who work in the justice system. Indeed, in the wake of recent statements about prison capacity, and court backlogs, it is as close as it has ever been to breaking point. Court closures and the condition of the court estate reflect the impact of decades of punitive, regressive approach to crime and justice issues. The national outrage over the Post Office Horizon scandal has brought to the fore access to justice issues which have long been recognised and raised on many occasions over past years.

It is increasingly clear that a different approach is needed.

The last year has been particularly challenging for Welsh Government too, marked by a deepening cost-of-living crisis and the continuing war in Ukraine. Although we have made some progress since Delivering Justice for Wales was published, we must acknowledge the issues we continue to face. We have had to make tough decisions to manage financial pressure on public services as a result of UK government mismanagement of the economy. We have responded to the challenges with resilience, working with our partners to advance our refocussed priorities.

In the wake of the findings of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, preceded by Gordon Brown’s Commission for the UK Labour Party, we believe the case for devolution has been made and we have a duty to prepare for it. Since our initial publication, therefore, we have been working with those with expertise of the justice system specifically in relation to policing, youth justice and probation to understand how devolution can and should happen in practice. This has included exploring the ways we could maximise the positive impact of devolving justice services to Wales and make a difference to lives, and in particular, to those who have been most underserved and disadvantaged by the justice system recognised, for example, in our Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan and our VAWDASV strategy.

In Delivering Justice for Wales, we made clear that to truly address crime and other causes or pressures on the justice system, policy and spending on justice needs to be aligned with policy and spending on social justice, health, housing, and education.

Devolution of justice is an essential part of the necessary reforms that need to be implemented if we are to deliver a modern, progressive and effective legal and justice system for, and accountable to, the people of Wales.

Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution
Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip


Delivering Justice for Wales was published in May 2022 to highlight the Welsh Government’s ongoing work to improve the justice system for people in Wales and how we were taking forward our commitment to pursue the case for the devolution of policing and justice.

Our primary focus was, and remains, improving outcomes under the current constitutional settlement, as evidenced within the Delivering Justice for Wales work programme.

Significant developments have however occurred since the publication of Delivering Justice for Wales which have resulted in some rebalancing of our focus across the justice work programme in Wales. This report highlights these developments and is structured around our refocussed objectives to:

  1. continue to improve justice outcomes in Wales under the current constitutional settlement;
  2. prepare for the devolution of some justice functions to Wales