The Appropriate Adult scheme is designed to ensure vulnerable adults have all the support and guidance they need during the custody process.
An Appropriate Adult is a member of the public who attends to ensure an adult detained in police custody with mental ill-health, learning difficulties or autism is treated fairly.
Appropriate Adults are a vital part of the criminal justice process, they are present to safeguard the interests and welfare of vulnerable adults to ensure their individual rights are protected. They do not give legal advice, but instead are present to ensure the detained person is treated fairly.
Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which regulates the actions of the police service, a vulnerable person who is brought into police custody should have an 'Appropriate Adult' with them at certain times of their detention. This includes when a person is booked into custody and during an interview for an offence for which they have been arrested or they have voluntarily attended.
In most instances when a vulnerable adult is detained, a suitable family member, carer or friend can fulfil this role, but in some cases an individual may not have anyone to support them.
In these instances, an Appropriate Adult can be a real lifeline.
The Police Commissioner commisioners The Appropriate Adult Service (TAAS) to provide this service in Merseyside
TAAS provides a professional body of people, who are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to provide this service.
An Appropriate Adult should be someone who is completely independent of the police and, where possible, the detained person. They should have a sound understanding of, and experience or training in, dealing with the needs of mentally disordered people.
If you are interested in giving up some of your free time to help some of the most vulnerable people in the community, you can find out how to apply on the TAAS website.
If you would like more information about how the Appropriate Adult scheme works around the country, please take a look at the National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN) website. Please note, while this website has lots of information about the scheme, it does not offer volunteering opportunities.