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Force partners with charity to prevent post-custody suicides

Awareness training delivered to custody sergeants to encourage detainees to seek help

Gwent Police has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Samaritans to support those in custody.

Each week in England and Wales it is believed someone will take their own life within three days of being released.

There is also an increased risk of suicide and self-harm during periods of detention.

The force is working with Newport Samaritans and the charity's South Wales Valleys Project with an aim of reducing this risk.

The partnership will ensure when an individual is detained in custody they are offered a call to Samaritans from their cell.

Additionally, when an individual leaves custody they will be provided with Samaritans contact details, as well as being offered a call from the charity within 24 hours. Informative signs are also displayed in all of the cells at the custody suite.

Most significantly, Samaritans awareness training has been delivered to all custody sergeants who will pass knowledge onto their colleagues in order to encourage a culture of help-seeking behaviour in detainees.

Assistant Chief Constable, Rhiannon Kirk, Gwent Police said: “Signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Samaritans shows our commitment to reducing risk to people in police custody by ensuring they are offered support while being detained and after leaving custody.

“By working in partnership we can ensure help is available to those at risk from suicide and self-harm and ultimately save lives.”

Gewnt Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “Ensuring the safety of detainees and the police officers and staff working in our custody units is paramount and this is why I am delighted to sign my commitment to the initiative with the Samaritans.”

“This partnership between us will add value to the significant investment we have already made in improving out custody suites in Gwent to prevent harm and create a modern environment for all. This includes the installation of CCTV and life-sign monitoring in all cells to monitor the movement and breathing of detainees.”

Carol Fradd, Branch Director for Newport Samaritans, said: “We are delighted to team up with Gwent Police on this promising new partnership. There is an increased risk of suicide for individuals being detained and after they have been discharged.

“We will be working together to help this high-risk group. At Samaritans we work hard to support everyone and we hope this partnership will instigate change”

Susan Francis, Project Officer for Samaritans South Wales Valleys Project said: “Following our successful partnership with South Wales Police in Merthyr Bridewell, I’m pleased that the Samaritans South Wales Valleys Project will be able to support Gwent Police.

“This partnership aims to reach those who are in most in need of emotional support in order to tackle suicide rates. I hope this will encourage wider partnerships”