Appropriate Adults work with vulnerable people in police custody.
Detainees may have mental health problems, learning difficulties or substance misuse issues.
Appropriate adults are volunteers, who aim to safeguard the interests, rights and welfare of vulnerable people.
In Cleveland, volunteers work on a rota basis. At least two volunteers are available at any time of the day or night. That’s to make sure the service runs 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Appropriate Adults make sure detainees are treated in a fair and just way. They also make sure that vulnerable detainees are able to take part effectively in police procedures around their detention, interview and ongoing police investigations.
What do Appropriate Adults do?
An Appropriate Adult is expected to:
- Support, advise and help vulnerable people when they are asked to provide information or participate in any police procedure;
- Observe whether the police are acting properly and fairly in respect of their rights and entitlements, and inform an inspector – or above – if they consider that they are not;
- Assist vulnerable detainees to communicate with police while respecting their right to say nothing unless they want to;
- Help detainees to understand their rights and make sure they are protected and respected.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and its Codes of Practice brought in the role of Appropriate Adults.
The AA safeguard gives greater integrity to the UK justice system – including better quality of evidence. As a result, the safeguard reduces the risk of evidence being left out at trial and miscarriages of justice.