February 26, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

‘You cannot possibly be a law maker and law breaker and regard that as something that can be shrugged off’ says First Minister

THE First Minister was questioned today, Friday (Jan 22) over the allegations that members of the Senedd had attended a bar facility at the Senedd to drink alcohol during the restrictions.

We asked the First Minister: The First Minister has made the rules on restrictions very clear to the people of Wales the majority of which have responded appropriately. The consequences for the people of Wales who break the rules are dire and swift in the courts. I appreciate there is going to be an investigation into the behaviour of the members of the Senedd and hope they would end up in court to face the same judgement if they have broken the rules. Will the Presiding Officer be reminding all members of the Senedd of their responsibilities and duties to the people of Wales?

The First Minister replied: “The Presiding Officer does very regularly draw people’s attention to what is required of them but I’ll do it. I will do it very willingly again this afternoon. It has always been my view that if you have the privilege of making the law in Wales then you cannot possibly be a law maker and a law breaker and regard that as something that can be shrugged off.

“We have had to take decisions that have placed the most enormous restrictions on people’s freedoms. It would be unthinkable to do what we have done other than in wartime but they have been necessary during the crisis. As you have said, the vast majority of people in Wales work so hard to stick to the rules every day. We cannot possibly expect other people to follow the rules when we are not doing everything we can to make sure we are complying with them ourselves.”

We asked the First Minister about the possibility of educating those who had broken restrictions as well as fining them. We asked:

Over 3,800 fines have been handed out in Wales in relation to breaking restrictions. The majority have been men between 18 and 24. We know what happens when people are caught for motoring offences. They are placed on a training programme. Would the First Minister consider such a scheme in Wales in order to modify behaviour of these men between 18 and 24 or indeed anyone who continually breaks restrictions?

The First Minister responded: “I am very happy to have that conversation with the police in Wales. Our decisions on fines have always been guided by what our police services tell us they need in order to be able to effectively enforce the law and as you will know; if people make a first mistake the level of fine is about £60 but a second mistake doubles that and by the time you get to repeated offences it doubles every time. That surely send a message to people that making mistakes is understandable the first time it is not a sensible person who goes on making that mistake.

“If there is something more we can do, the polices’ approach has always been to educate, to inform and to encourage. If there is more we can do to make that effective I am quite happy to take that idea up in the conversations I regularly have with the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables as well.”

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