Specialist Mental Health Support in Force Control Room

8th November 2016

A dedicated mental health specialist is working alongside Gwent Police in the Force's control room to ensure that when vulnerable people with a mental health illness or suffering a crisis come into contact with them, they receive appropriate care and support.

The innovative pilot project is being jointly funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, and the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. The project is aimed at reducing demand on police officers where mental health is an underlying factor, managing risk and harm in relation to mental health crisis and to ensure that appropriate care and support is delivered in a timely way.

Emergency calls to Gwent Police are monitored by the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) who works alongside staff in the control room and assists them in managing risk and harm to those with a mental illness or suffering a crisis. The specialist has access to both the Force's and the Health Board's computer systems, which allows them to build a picture of the incident and the people involved.
Information, advice, guidance and direction can then be provided to police officers and staff by the specialist. They are able to contact staff to gather more information and also contact those suffering a crisis directly once the officer at the scene has confirmed that it is safe for the person involved in the incident to speak on the phone and there is no immediate threat to life. This enables early intervention in mental health related incidents before crisis point is reached. However, they will not be considered for initial contact with suicidal individuals and will always remain within the control room environment. They will not be deployed to the scene of any incident or any other location.

The project is part of the commitment of Mr Cuthbert's office and Gwent Police to support the key principles outlined within the Wales Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat. This 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.

Gwent PCC Jeff Cuthbert will be monitoring the impact of the pilot project.

Explaining the reason behind this pilot project, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: "People in mental health crisis are some of the most vulnerable members of our community. I am committed to working with our partners to continue to improve our response to them.

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and it's vitally important that people in their greatest hour of need have access to specialist support and receive the right level of help. I will continue to work closely with our partners locally and nationally to ensure we can support people when they need us most."

Judith Paget, the Chief Executive of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: "Supporting individuals with a mental health condition is a key priority for the Health Board and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent on this new and innovative project. It is critically important that public services work together to provide joined up and consistent support and advice, especially if individuals are vulnerable or at a time of particular crisis."