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Minutes from SIG meeting (Wales) - 23 February 2021

Time: 13:00 – 15:00

Location: Microsoft Teams

Chair for the meeting: Helen Rhodes (HR) (Gambling Commission)


  • Stephanie Barnhouse (SB) (Welsh Government)
  • Claire Cotter (CC) (PHW/NHS Wales Health Collaborative)
  • Kirrin Davidson (KD) (Children’s Commission for Wales)
  • Professor Simon Dymond (SD) (Swansea University)
  • Hermine Graham (HG) (ABSG)
  • Sarah Johns (SJ) (WLGA/Public Protection Services)
  • Neil Jones (NJ) (Cardiff and Vale UHB)
  • Teresa Owen (TO) (PHW/Betsi Cadwaladr UHB)
  • Chief Inspector John Wainwright (JW) (South Wales Police)
  • Simon Wilkinson (SW) (WLGA)

Gambling Commission staff names other than for Leadership Team members have been redacted.

1. Introductions

Introductions were made, and members explained their role.

HR stated that the Gambling Commission were content to act as secretariat for the group to drive collaboration and facilitate meetings but not to permanently lead the group; the Scotland Implementation Group was chaired by Public Health Scotland.

The Group discussed its current membership. Council representatives noted that their roles were not directly linked to gambling harm instead having a regulatory focus. JW suggested others could take part, noting the Safer Communities Network.

The Group identified areas of interest for future meetings. These areas included criminal justice, public/mental health as well as hearing from England and Scotland colleagues.

Action: Gambling Commission to partner with colleagues to progress themed discussions on criminal justice and public/mental health.

The Group agreed that it would be useful to be aware of other related meetings. The Group agreed to review membership roles and responsibilities in six months' time as there may be capacity changes by then.

Action: Gambling Commission and SB to stay in touch to produce group meeting agendas reflecting other meetings and strands of work.

2. Minutes from the last meeting

The Group reviewed the minutes from the last meeting, and these were agreed. HR noted that the Commission were in the process of making the minutes of Strategy Implementation Group meetings available on the Commission website.

Action: Group to review minutes and provide any comments within a week.

3. Updates on progress and developments since the last meeting

The Chair referred to the Terms of Reference and Declaration of Interest documents that were provided ahead of the meeting.

Action: Group to review DOI and TOR documents and provide comments within a week.

The Chair asked if any Group members were able to provide Welsh Language support for the Group’s work. Representatives from WLGA and SWP offered help.

4. Gambling Act 2005 Review

The Chair opened the item on the Gambling Act review. It was highlighted that the review covers regulation, treatment, research, funding, protection of children and young people and that it is due to close at the end of March. It was also noted that beyond the consultation there will be other stages to provide further responses.

SB commented that the Welsh Government Minister for gambling and CMO are formulating a response focusing on addressing specific issues impacting Wales.

SD advised the Group that research academics are expected to respond to the Gambling Act review and that he is producing a response on behalf of Gambling Research, Education and Treatment (GREAT) Network Wales. The Academic Forum are also preparing a response.

Action: Standing actions for SB and SD to provide ad hoc updates on the Gambling Act review in their respective areas.

5. Suicide Prevention Update

CC updated the Group on suicide prevention activity that had taken place since the last meeting. CC had met with Public Health Scotland colleagues to discuss suicide prevention and gambling and links had now been made with PHS colleagues.
CC was working with the Five Nations group looking at all aspects of suicide prevention, including a real-time surveillance tracking system which will monitor those who have previously attempted suicide and intervene. They will be using the sudden death forms that police use, and they will be asking for additional information to be added to the form incorporating fields in relation to gambling harms. CC would feed back where appropriate on the meeting in mid-March.

JW suggested that Coroners be asked what their view was and whether information could be identified at inquests. CC and JW to pick up the work around the police form and wider issue outside of the meeting.

The Group were informed that the mental health and suicide strategies have been extended to 2022 and a programme plan has been created which links back to research into gambling harms. The aim is to engage with people with lived experience, target certain communities who are at risk of self-harm and suicide and to identify regional platforms where dialogue with these groups is already taking place.

HR provided an update on the Samaritans project providing guidance to gambling operators on how to identify customers who may be experiencing suicidal feelings and suggesting appropriate preventative measures to take. Separately, the Samaritans are going to develop a policy document. GC to suggest Wales contacts to Samaritans who may be useful to feed into this work.

SD welcomed this research but also highlighted the limited research into causal statistics, Further data from working with police and coroners was needed. Suicide was often a multifactorial outcome, but it was a challenge to link gambling to suicide given other comorbidities that are often present.

The Group proposed that another themed discussion on gambling and suicide would be useful and that experts in this field should be invited to present their research.

Action: Gambling Commission and SD to feedback on suicide research in support of CC’s work.

6. Discussion on Key Pilots

HG was asked to give an insight into how the ABSG sought to use the implementation updates to National Strategy Action Map in identifying gaps in provision. HG responded that the Actions Map was a very useful tool which had already been used to identify gaps in provision and identify and support projects which would tackle these. This work had already led to a more joined up approach on public health and could use funding moving forward, like a possible statutory levy, to further support treatment at a local level and research projects.

The Group discussed what provision was being made in Wales, and what was happening in other parts of GB that could be relevant to Wales; with one area of particular interest being criminal justice projects.

The Group agreed that the gaps in Wales include provision of treatment, pathways to treatment as well as criminal justice links. It was noted that the Task and Finish Group delivering the recommendations from the CMO’s report are looking at strengthening pathways and education.

WLGA representatives cited the broad area of work that local authorities deal with and welcomed any information that could be shared on pilots undertaken by councils. The Glasgow City Council and Greater Manchester pilots were highlighted for their approach to gambling harms, expanding into treatment and prevention.

7. Agree next steps and plans for future meetings

The key actions from the meeting were:

  • Gambling Commission to partner with colleagues to progress themed discussions on criminal justice and public/mental health
  • Gambling Commission and SB to stay in touch to produce group meeting agendas reflecting other meetings and strands of work
  • group to review minutes and provide any comments within a week
  • group to review DOI and TOF documents and provide comments within a week
  • standing actions for SB and SD to provide ad hoc updates on the Gambling Act review in their respective areas
  • Gambling Commission and SD to feedback on suicide research in support of CC’s work.

The themes agreed for discussion at the next meetings were:

  • Criminal Justice System
  • local authorities work in treatment and prevention
  • gambling and suicide/suicide research
  • Public/Mental Health.

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