Commitment to Mental Health Crisis Care

23rd June 2016

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent has reaffirmed the commitment of his office to ensure that vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis receive appropriate care and don't end up in police custody unnecessarily.

In his first week in office and as part of his continued support of Mental Health Awareness Week (16th - 22nd May), Gwent PCC Jeff Cuthbert today reaffirms the commitment of his office to support the key principles outlined within the Wales Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat.

The Wales Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat is a joint agreement between the Welsh Government and 28 key organisations and partners throughout Wales which highlights how they will work together to help people going through a mental health crisis. It aims to help reduce the number of people detained inappropriately in police cells and drive out the variation in standards across Wales.

The Gwent Mental Health and Learning Disability Partnership Board which includes the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Gwent Police, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, the five Local Authorities, Gwent Police and the third sector fully supports the key principles outlined within the Concordat.

The Concordat sets out the standards of care people should expect if they experience a mental health crisis and details how the emergency services should respond. The voices of those who have suffered mental health crisis helped shape the document.

Some of the key points of collective commitment by all the partners include:

  • To cease to use police custody suites as a place of safety, except in exceptional circumstances and never for a child/young person under the age of 18;
  • To ensure there is access to mental health professional advice at the point of crisis, available 24 hours each day and every day;
  • Police vehicles will rarely be used to convey people in crisis save for the most violent of individuals and only exceptionally to transport people between NHS facilities;
  • Partners and the third sector should be supported to widen their ambition in developing 'new' places of safety and providing alternatives to in-patient care at all stages e.g. sanctuary houses, drug and alcohol support.

By working effectively in partnership and adopting a unified approach, standards have already improved and are continuing to improve in Gwent. There was a reduction of 19% in the amount of people detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in 2015 compared with 2014 (from 313 in 2014 to 254 in 2015). The number of people detained within a custody suite for their safety in Gwent has halved since 2013 which is aligned to the ethos of the Concordat in ensuring that people are taken to a health facility for assessment which is deemed an appropriate place of safety. During 2016 this trend continues with 71% of adult and 80% of young people now detained under section 136 within a health setting.

Reaffirming the commitment of his office, Gwent PCC Jeff Cuthbert, said: "I want to reaffirm the commitment of this office to continue to work with the Welsh Government and our partners in the community to improve the care and support for people experiencing or at risk of mental health crisis. People in mental health crisis are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and I am committed to working with our partners to continue to improve our response to them."

The full agreement can be found here