New Mental Health Crisis Care Agreement

22nd December 2015

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 new 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 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 also 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 in Gwent and it is envisaged that the new agreement will help to make further progress. In 2012/13 an average of 25 people a month were detained by Gwent Police under the Mental Health Act and 58% of them were taken to police custody for assessment rather than a health facility. In 2014/15 however, an average of 30 people a month were detained by the Force under the Mental Health Act, with 60% being taken to a health facility for assessment which is deemed an appropriate place of safety.

Welcoming the launch of the agreement, Gwent PCC Ian Johnston, said: "Our existing public service partnerships in Gwent have already helped improve the response to people in mental health crisis care. This new agreement will help strengthen our commitment even further and reduce the likelihood of people presenting a risk of harm to themselves or others because of a mental health condition deteriorating to such crisis point.

People in mental health crisis are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and they need specialist care and attention. We are talking about people in their greatest hour of need who are at their most vulnerable. They also bring additional challenges to the officers in charge of our custody units. They should not be detained in police custody, especially as many have not committed a crime.

By making the most of this agreement and working effectively with our local partners, we can ensure that we have appropriate structures in place to support people in a mental health crisis. We all need to work together to deliver on this and drive it forward."

Speaking at the signing of the Concordat, Judith Paget, the Chief Executive of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: "The Health Board is fully committed to working with its partners in order to implement the Concordat and achieve better outcomes for those who experience a mental health crisis."
The full agreement can be found here