A ground-breaking new agreement to connect policing and health services in South Wales has been launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable and the Chief Executive and Chair of Public Health Wales. It commits South Wales Police and the health service to work ever more closely to tackle the factors that cause both crime and ill-health.
Commissioner Alun Michael has long advocated a “public health approach to crime” since the time, as a Home Office Minister, he promoted the idea of being “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”. And he welcomed today’s agreement as a “major step forward in putting principles into practice”.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed on 21 October 2015 at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay will ensure the agencies work in partnership to identify and overcome common challenges, taking a scientific approach and sharing analysis and evaluation.
The agreement will ensure an evidence-based approach to the prevention and reduction of ill-health and crime, and better targeting and evaluation to improve services provided to the public by South Wales Police and Public Health Wales.
The agreement will also make sure that the police and Public Health Wales continue to work closely to prepare and respond to emergency situations including threats from natural disasters, terrorism and other major incidents.
Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael, said:
“This Memorandum of Understanding is a ground-breaking agreement which will provide a closer working relationship between South Wales Police and Public Health Wales.
“Through a more defined relationship we will be able better to identify individuals at an early stage and intervene to prevent crime and keep vulnerable individuals from entering the criminal justice process.
“There are both health benefits and policing benefits if we can do more together to tackle key issues including violence on streets, excessive drinking, substance misuse, domestic violence and mental health issues. Key principles include early intervention and prevention of harm.
“We are establishing an agreed programme of work based on the priorities contained within both the Police and Crime Reduction Plan 2015-18 and Public Health Wales’ 2015-2018 Strategic Plan. It will reflect the underlying principle of mutual benefit in order to effectively and efficiently deliver health, wellbeing and safer communities for people living in Wales.”
Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan added:
“By coming together today we have been able to set out a plan for the future, drawing upon the skills and expertise of both organisations to create a long term sustainable plan for closer collaboration.
“We will be able to identify common problems and understand the challenges we face and will progress the delivery of joint priorities from the wider perspective of both public health and criminal justice, with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention.”
Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales, said:
“We are looking forward to working in close collaboration with our colleagues in the police. Many of our goals and aspirations are shared, especially around taking early action to ensure young people in Wales are supported to live healthy and crime-free lives.
“This Memorandum of Understanding is an important first step in our collaboration with the police in South Wales, which will deliver real benefits to the public as well as to police and public health services. By pooling our resources and working towards the same goals, we can make a much bigger difference to people’s lives.”
Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, Chair of Public Health Wales, said:
“This memorandum represents a wider shift in the way agencies are responding to the challenges we face in Wales. We can no longer afford to work in isolation. We must work together to align our resources and our goals to improve health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities, and reduce crime.
“This important agreement recognises that ill-health and crime disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society. This commitment will help all three agencies to get support into communities that need it most.”
Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and International Development for Public Health Wales said:
“Tackling alcohol and drug related problems, road traffic injuries, child abuse, and domestic violence are just a few of challenges faced by both public health and policing organisations.
“This Memorandum of Understanding outlines how Public Health Wales, South Wales Police, and the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales will work together and respond to these challenges by providing support for those affected and critically by tackling the causes ill health and criminal behaviour.”
The memorandum was signed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Alun Michael, the Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan QPM, the Chief Executive of Public Health Wales Dr Tracey Cooper, and the Chair of Public Health Wales Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB.
The signing of the memorandum was witnessed by Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM.