Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon has secured funding of £90,000 for a new service to help vulnerable people.
The money, from the Home Office, will help fund two specially equipped vehicles to be staffed by police officers and with facilities for mental health nurses.
They will help those in mental distress when involved in an incident.
Police - often first on the scene at an incident – now occasionally have no choice but to take the person into custody until health treatment can be provided.
It is hoped the Mobile Assessment and Support Team (MAST) units will reduce the need for such action. A partnership between Dyfed- Powys Police, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Powys Teaching Health Board and the Welsh Ambulance Service, the units could be operational by the end of this summer.
Mr Salmon said: “For a number of reasons, police cells are regularly used for those suffering with potentially traumatic episodes.
“MAST is the innovative alternative; it will provide the most appropriate service to people in mental distress at the earliest opportunity – and will save time and money for the police, ambulance and health services.
“I’m delighted that my application for Home Office funding has succeeded. This project will offer new support to individuals at a time when they’re particularly vulnerable and will help Dyfed-Powys Police and others become more effective on the front line.”
Hywel Dda University Health Board Deputy Chief Executive Karen Howell said: “This innovative development will ensure that vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis receive timely and appropriate care and treatment more flexibly in their own communities.”
Police cells are used to hold individuals with mental health issues when health services are stretched or when the individual has drunk too much or is being violent.
Dyfed-Powys Police managed 176 such detentions in the 10 months up to February 2013. Only three (2%) resulted in a crime being recorded and, on average, it took eight hours 48 minutes in detention for the individual to be seen by the appropriate mental health team.
Dyfed-Powys Police mental health detentions cost the taxpayer around £313,000 every year in policing budget. It is hoped that MAST will decrease such detention figures by 80% and that a £249,200 police saving will be made in 2014-15.