Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Prisoner voting in Wales: devolved autonomy and human rights at the jagged edge

Davies, Greg and Jones, Robert 2023. Prisoner voting in Wales: devolved autonomy and human rights at the jagged edge. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 74 (1) , pp. 1-27. 10.53386/nilq.v74i1.1016
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of Prisoner voting in Wales - devolved autonomy and human rights at the jagged edge.pdf] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 27 July 2024 due to copyright restrictions.

Download (487kB)


In light of recent contestation between the UK Government and devolved institutions over legal human rights protections, this paper examines the acute challenges that arise in the Welsh context for the implementation of Article 3 of Protocol 1 (A3P1) to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), namely the right to free and fair elections. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has held repeatedly that a blanket prohibition on convicted prisoner voting is a violation of the ECHR. Following the devolution of competences over devolved and local elections, the fundamental question for Wales is not merely whether prisoners should get the vote, but how a more progressive policy can be delivered within the current structures of Welsh devolution. We argue that the Welsh Government’s proposals for reform – partial enfranchisement based on sentence length – will be conditioned and undermined by criminal law and sentencing policy for which it has no control. Meanwhile, other options are either beyond devolved competence or entirely contingent upon the cooperation of a UK Government which opposes prisoner enfranchisement. In tackling these issues, we aim to demonstrate the profoundly limited nature of ‘devolved autonomy’ in an area ostensibly within the competence of Welsh institutions. The case study of prisoner voting thus brings into focus the unique and significant limitations on Welsh devolution and the considerable scope for complexity at the intersection of devolved governance and international human rights obligations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Wales Governance Centre (WGCES)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
K Law > KD England and Wales
Publisher: School of Law
ISSN: 0029-3105
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 28 March 2023
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2023 01:53

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics