The nature of local communities served by AA schemes will naturally vary between police forces, local authorities and custody suites. Personal and cultural needs and experiences of policing will vary. AA schemes will need to comply with the Equality Act 2010 and well as specific requirements in PACE. Under the Equality Act, all public sector bodies are under a proactive equality duty.
Data should be gathered from local partners inform the assessment of demand in relation related to equality, diversity and individual needs. This will help to shape not only the choice of model and service specification but also partnership expectations.
Nationally, the majority of people arrested by police are male. Accoridng to Ministry of Justice figures, while women make up around 19% of people arrested, they make up 30% of the people with a mental health need identified by liaison and diversion services in police custody and 27% of the incidents of self-harm in police custody
For a strip searches, PACE requires that the AA is of the same sex as a child or vulnerable adult unless that AA is a person who has been specifically requested by a child (i.e. someone known to them (PACE Code C Annex A 5, 11(b); Annex E 12). This represents a significant challenge for police and AA schemes.
Nationally, the majority of people arrested by police are white. However, most BME communities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, mental health care and learning disability inpatient care (ONS, 2011; Ministry of Justice, 2011, Centre for Mental Health, 2014). People from African-Caribbean backgrounds are three times more likely to be arrested per 1,000 population than a white person.
However, they do not necessarily have a higher prevalence of mental ill health or learning disabilities (Nazroo and King, 2002).
HMIC (2015) found that many of those in a Black Mental Health UK focus group said that appropriate adults were often not called in respect of vulnerable black people. Examples were given of appropriate adults being turned away by the police when they offered to act for a detainee.
For some, cultural factors can also reduce access to services such as the fear of stigma, the imperative to ‘save face’, maintain social status and moral reputation (Centre for Mental Health, 2014).
"The Commission identified the following characteristics of services that appeared to work well with people from BME communities with mental health problems and in contact with criminal justice:
- Cultural competence
- Offered person centred intervention
- Holistic engagement
- Provided mentoring and service user involvement
- Worked in partnership with the communities clients come from."
Bradley Commission: The Bradley Report five years on
The Equality Act 2010 section 6 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
People with intellectual disabilities or mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.
The Equality Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made to standard provisions, criteria, practices or physical features to avoid disadvantage. Reasonable steps must be taken to provide any ‘auxiliary aid’ without which a disabled person would be disadvantaged.
Both PACE and the Equality Act cover both adults and children. Children who come into contact wiht poilce as suspects often face a number of areas of disadvantage in their life, including neurodevelopmental disorders and disability.
Department for Education and Skills figures (2015) record that children who are looked after by local authority children’s social care services are five times more likely to be cautioned or convicted than their peers.