A FORMER police officer and mental health advocate has been awarded an MBE.
Force Advisor on Mental Health, Peter Thomas, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours for services to policing.
Mr Thomas, who served as a police officer for 30 years before taking up his current role in 2009 – said: “I am very humbled, and extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of South Wales Police.”
The mental health triage service was established in 2019, with nurse practitioners based within the force’s Public Service Centre able to deliver appropriate intervention at the first point of contact to people in mental health crisis or distress.
Engagement with the triage team increased confidence among officers, supporting them to use strategies in the management of mental health concerns, and ensuring individuals are appropriately safeguarded.
Mr Thomas said: “It’s been a success story for us. It’s a top-class service and has been everything we wanted, and more.”
He explained that incidents throughout his police career stuck with him, including being one of the first officers on the scene of a murder in Cardiff in the early 1980s in which the perpetrator had a serious mental health illness.
He has also been influenced by the loss of his son.
Mr Thomas said: “In 2001 I lost my son Jonathan, who was studying to become a doctor at the medical school in Cardiff. He had mental health issues and he took his own life.
“It made me realise that if you can reach someone before they become seriously unwell, it can help save them and make a difference. That has driven me on.”
An award and bursary in Jonathan’s memory was established by Cardiff University’s School of Medicine.
Mr Thomas added: “When I was asked to take on the this role, I thought I could make a difference and that’s what I have tried to do, to raise the bar.
“I have always worked on the maxim that you give more than you take, and that’s what we have tried to do with this service.”
Chief Constable, Jeremy Vaughan, added: “I’m delighted that Peter has been recognised with an MBE. It’s testament to the hugely valuable and important work that has been carried out by the mental health triage team and by Peter – following a career with South Wales Police which began in 1979.
“His commitment and dedication to ensuring the best possible service is available for those in need is an inspiration. Da iawn, Peter.”