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Appropriate Adult Service

Appropriate Adult Service

Appropriate Adult Services provide independent support for any vulnerable adult who comes into contact with the Criminal Justice System, whether as an alleged offender, victim or witness of a crime.

The Appropriate Adult role was created by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 with the intention of safeguarding the rights and welfare of vulnerable young people and adults in police custody. When someone is arrested and taken to a police station it is the responsibility of the custody officer (usually a police sergeant) to identify if the person is vulnerable.

Those considered vulnerable are anyone who is, or appears (to the custody officer) to:

  • Be aged under 17 years.
  • Have mental health difficulties.
  • Have a learning disability or difficulty communicating and understanding things.

If the custody officer considers someone to be vulnerable he or she has a duty to request the attendance of an Appropriate Adult. Further interviews with the person in custody cannot go ahead without an Appropriate Adult present.

The role of the Appropriate Adult is to provide:

  • Support and advice to the vulnerable person.
  • Facilitate communication between the vulnerable person and the police.

An Appropriate Adult is different to a solicitor and does not give legal advice. An Appropriate Adult can be a family member, friend or a volunteer or social/health care professional.

Appropriate Adults are mostly volunteers, who must be over 18, DBS checked and eligible to work in the UK.

You can find out more about Appropriate Adult Services from the National Appropriate Adult Network.


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