Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

National Assembly for Wales

Y Pwyllgor Iechyd, Gofal Cymdeithasol a Chwaraeon

Health, Social Care and Sport Committee

Ymchwiliad i iechyd meddwl yng nghyd-destun plismona a dalfa’r heddlu

Inquiry into Mental health in Policing and Police Custody


Ymateb gan Fwrdd Iechyd Prifysgol Abertawe Bro Morgannwg

Evidence from Abertawe Bro Morganwwg University Health Board

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into the Committee’s enquiry into mental health in policing and policy custody.  

A number of your questions are relevant to NHS Health Boards. I understand you also sought evidence from the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust and from Local Authorities.  The following responses focus on an Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (AMBU) perspective or position on the questions that relate to the Health Boards’ areas of responsibilities: 

Whether there are sufficient services (i.e. health and social care services) available to support police officers in Wales to divert people with mental health problems away from police custody.

ABMU has a number of ways in which police officers can access support:

·         The police can contact our 24 hour Crisis Teams in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot & Bridgend to discuss patients.

·         We have supported the pilot of placing Psychiatric Nurses in Police Call Centres to improve management of mental health calls.

·         Criminal Justice Liaison Nurses work in the South Wales Police Bridewell Suites in Swansea & Bridgend Monday – Friday.

Whether local authorities and health services are meeting their duties and complying fully with legislative requirements to provide appropriate places of safety to which the police may take people detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.  

There are 3 places of Safety in the ABMU Health Board area. These are in Cefn Coed Hospital and the mental health units in Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend Hospitals.  The number of individuals brought into these places of safety in 2018 were: Bridgend – 78; Neath Port Talbot – 84; and Swansea – 94.

How effectively police forces in Wales work with partners (such as health or social care services) to safeguard vulnerable people in police custody, and how well the police themselves identify and respond to vulnerable people detained in custody, specifically those arrested under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

There is a Memorandum of Understanding between South Wales Police and the Health Board’s Medium Secure Service.  The Police can request a mental health assessment of people in custody via the On Call Consultant Psychiatrist for the relevant locality. A Consultant Psychiatrist will assess anyone who is arrested on suspicion of murder in order to give an opinion about mental health and fitness to be detained and questioned.   

More broadly, there is regular contact between our Emergency Department clinical and operational leaders and police colleagues to discuss how we can continually improve the police and hospital interface. 

The effectiveness of multi-agency care planning for people with mental health problems when leaving custody, specifically for those detained in police custody under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to help to prevent repeat detentions. 

As noted above, the police can call on the advice of a Consultant Psychiatrist when assessing the needs of vulnerable people in police custody.  

When individuals are assessed by one of our Crisis Teams they will often be referred or signposting to ongoing care or support, whether that be into secondary care, to their own GP or to a 3rd sector voluntary service for support.  

Whether effective joint working arrangements are in place, with a specific focus on implementation of the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, including whether the Welsh Government is providing sufficient oversight and leadership. 

The South Wales Mental Health, Learning Disability & Criminal Justice Planning Group (SWP) is chaired by an ABMU Consultant Psychiatrist and attended by the Nurse Director or Deputy.

The Wales Mental Health Crisis Care Assurance Group oversees the delivery of the Crisis Care Concordat.   

Yours sincerely