The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and its Codes of Practice set out the rules and safeguards for policing in England and Wales and includes the role of the appropriate adult.
The role of the appropriate adult is to safeguard the rights, entitlements and welfare of juveniles (under 18s) and vulnerable people. The criminal age of responsibility is 10 years of age.
A person is vulnerable by reason of mental health conditions, learning disability, being on the autism spectrum and brain injury, but this is not an exhaustive list. You take each individual on a case by case basis.
The appropriate adult will check that the child or vulnerable person will have understood what is being asked of him/her in relation to questions and procedures and will also make sure the police understand the vulnerable person/child.
They will assist during any procedure required by the PACE codes, including;
- Booking into custody if they are there early enough, though often they will not be at the custody suite until the person has been booked in and this is fine, their rights and entitlements will be given again once the appropriate adult has arrived. Booking in will not be delayed for the appropriate adult, but the appropriate procedures will be carried out again.
- Interviews and statements.
- ID procedures and samples (fingerprints, DNA etc)
- Strip searches
- Reviews of detention
They can intervene if they don’t believe the rights of the person is being met and escalate the complaint. But, they are not a solicitor, they are not there to give legal advice and an officer can remove an appropriate adult from an interview room if they try to interfere in the process in that way and they would then get another appropriate adult in their place. Usually, things run smoothly and there is not a lot for the appropriate adult to do. They’re there to make sure rights, entitlements and welfare of the person are being met and the huge majority of officers will be doing this.
An appropriate adult can be a family member for a child, or someone from the appropriate adult scheme if a family member is not available. For a vulnerable adult, it is someone from the scheme. Scheme AAs know what they are there to do and are good at their job. If an appropriate adult is used from the scheme they will always insist that a solicitor is used. You would be surprised how many people are interviewed without solicitors.
I have interviewed many people with appropriate adults and the interviews have run as smoothly as any other interview I’ve run. As long as you explain everything properly and are taking care of the person then there really is not a problem. Appropriate adults are a regular part of custody life.
You can find all other posts in this series HERE.
Rebecca Bradley is a retired UK police detective with over 15 years policing experience. Seven of those years were in uniform and the rest in a specialist investigative department where She handled multiple, serious and complex investigations. She is now a crime writer and offers a police procedural fact-checking service, available to all crime writers setting their work in England or Wales.
Please see THIS POST for further details.
Join my Writing Crime group. If you sign up to the group you will receive a police MG11 statement (a genuine statement paper – I found online) which I have written a statement on, using an incident that occurs at the end of my novella, Three Weeks Dead. So, it’s a genuine statement, authentically written by an ex-detective.
What else will you receive in this group?
Every month I will send you, either;
- Another document I have completed.
- A link to an online document I know will help you.
- Another police document that forms part of a police investigation.
All of these can be printed out and kept in a folder and your folder will grow with policing information that you, as writers, can use, or ignore, as you wish. It is fiction, but having the information means you can make an informed decision.
If you want to be a part of this group and to claim your first item (the completed statement) then go HERE.