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Appropriate Adult 

The Appropriate Adult's key roles and responsibilities to:

  • Ensure that the detained person understands what is happening to them and why. It is important to take into account any mental health problems, learning difficulties and speech, language and communication issues;

  • Ensure that the detained person understands their rights;

  • Support, advise and assist the detained person, particularly while they are being questioned;

  • Observe whether the police are acting properly, fairly and with respect for the rights of the detained person;

  • Facilitate communication between the police and the detained person - the Appropriate Adult plays an important role and must be pro-active in undertaking their responsibilities. The role is not one of simply observing proceedings in the police station.

Important changes to the way police treat 17-year-olds

The treatment of 17-year-olds by police is currently undergoing a period of change following a High Court decision in 2013. Please note that:

  • under s.38 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, YOTs have a statutory duty to provide appropriate adults for children (aged 10 to 14) and young people (aged 15 to 17)

  • section 50 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 sets the age of criminal responsibility at ten years old

  • the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) refers only to juveniles (currently defined as those who are not yet 17)

  • the Home Office revised PACE Code C in 2013, extending the requirement for appropriate adults to 17-year-olds (note that this does not include Youth Cautions and Youth Conditional Cautions). However, it did not amend the definition of juveniles in the PACE Act

The presence of an Appropriate Adult is required:

  • When the young person is informed of their rights;

  • During a strip or intimate search;

  • During police interview;

  • When fingerprints or samples are taken;

  • When the detained person is part of any identification procedure;

  • At the point of charge.


*To request an appropriate adult fill in the form below and one of our team members will get back to you.

Appropriate Adult Form

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