AA schemes need to be flexible in order to achieve their outcomes.
They are expected to provide a quick response when a vulnerable person is detained and may experience long detention times.
While simple cases may need an AA to attend only once and for a relatively short time, a more complex case might require more than one call out or a long stay in custody. It’s not always clear from the outset how complex or long a case will be, so a service will need to have the flexibility to respond to the dynamic needs of the situation.
Ideally, a single AA will support a person throughout their entire detention period. In longer cases, AAs can take their long rest period at the same time at the person who has been detained. However, in some cases this may not be possible. The design of the scheme will have to be able to respond to this with a robust handover process that minimises the detrimental effect on the person being supported.
Travel times may be relatively fixed where a scheme:
- is delivered by professionals from a central base (e.g. YOT officers or charity workers travelling from their office); and
- is serving fixed custody suites (and non-custody police stations for voluntary interviews)
However, greater flexibility will be required where:
- a commissioned service uses AAs who travel from their home or other location; and
- voluntary interviews are carried out in a range of locations (e.g. people's homes).
The PACE Codes explicitly require the AA to be physically present for many procedures.
However, the AA is entitled to make representations to the custody officer on reviews of detentions remotely. This could be via a phone call or an email to the relevant officer. The officer has a duty to inform the AA of when the review will take place.
It should be noted that detention reviews principally involve communication with the police, rather than the person being supported. Procedures that involve communication with a vulnerable suspect can be severely inhibited if the AA is not present. In such matters, remote support is unlikely to be compatible with achieving the necessary outcomes. Scheme developers / commissioners will need to be clear about their expectations in terms of the level of service to provided.