In 2014, the Home Secretary Theresa May MP commissioned research on the issue of provision of AAs adults.
The commission was led by NAAN and supported by an advisory board including Lord Bradley and representatives from ADASS, NHS England, NPCC, PCCs, HMIC and the Care not Custody Coalition.
The resulting report, There to Help (2015) found: -
- challenges in identifying adults for whom an AA was required, leading to significant under-identification of need;
- limited availability of appropriate adults for adults in many areas;
- variable quality of appropriate adults.
The report provided ten recommendations, including support for local co-commissioning.
Following the There to Help report, the Home Office established a working group involving many of the same key agencies to "develop and implement solutions to ensure that mentally vulnerable adults in police custody are correctly identified and have their rights and entitlements safeguarded by way of an appropriate adult".
This has produced:
- Proposed changes to PACE Codes, including a more detailed definition of the AA role
- A voluntary strategic local partnership agreement to be adopted by directors of adult social care and police and crime commissioners
The partnership agreement
The Home Office intends that the partnership agreement will support the development of local partnerships where there are issues with AA provision.
Minister of State for Policing Nick Hurd MP wrote to all PCCs in September 2017, highlighting this approach which places local authorities in the lead.
The partnership is currently in draft form and has not been published.
This online guidance has been produced by NAAN to provide practical support to local partnerships wishing to develop effective AA schemes. It has been developed alongside the Home Office's partnership agreement and in support of efforts to ensure that effective AAs are provided to every adult for whem they are required.
However, this guidance is open to use by all areas, not just those adoping the partnership agreement. Furthermore, it covers both adults, children's and combined AA services.
This resource is intended to help local areas ensure full and effective provision of appropriate adults for people detained or questioned in relation to criminal or terrorism-related offences and who:
- appear to be under the age of 18; or
- may have a mental disorder or be otherwise mentally vulnerable.
It is aimed at individuals and teams who have responsibility for researching and developing plans for an appropriate adult scheme for their local area. It provides information wihch will support decisions as to whether the scheme will be:
- an in-house scheme (e.g. managed directly by a youth offending team or social services); or
- a commissioned (contracted out) scheme; or
- a hybrid of the above.
Where the resource refers to:
- 'Developers' it means people who are developing an in-house scheme which they intend to coordinate themselves
- 'Commissioners' it means people who intend to ask another organsation to coordinate the scheme.
This resource both provides detailed information and prompts key questions which will need to be answered locally. This will assist scheme developers and commissioners in developing an understanding of:
- Vulnerability in the context of criminal investigations
- The role of the appropriate adult including its purpose and boundaries
- The importance of independence
- Potential local stakeholders and partners
- Local demand and existing provision
- Potential models of provision
- Defining an effective specification
- Financial considerations
- Identifying and managing risks
- Monitoring and evaluation
- The market for AA provision
In addition links to additional resources are provided, along with a number of templates.
There are wide range of resources that can be drawn upon in order to inform effective AA provision development or commissioning. This guidance aims to make the process more efficent by developers by drawing on those resources at appropriate points, providing references and links to the source material.
However, key documents include:
Children and adults services
- National Standards for Appropriate Adult Schemes (NAAN, 2013)
- Expectations for police custody: Criteria for assessing the treatment of and conditions for detainees in police custody (HMICFRS / HMIP, 2016)
- The Bradley Report (2009)
- There to Help: Ensuring provision of appropriate adults for mentally vulnerable adults detained or interviewed by police (NAAN, 2015)
- A joint inspection of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system – phase one (CJJI, 2014)
- Appropriate Adult Local Partnership Agreement: Improving Provision For Vulnerable Adults (Home Office, expected publication early 2018)
- Appropriate adults: guide for youth justice professionals (YJB, 2014)
- National standards for youth justice services - strategic standard 14 (YJB, 2013)
- Use out-of-court disposals: section 1 case management guidance (YJB, 2014)
- Manage bail and remands: section 3 case management guidance (YJB, 2014)
- Who’s Looking Out for the Children? A Joint Inspection of Appropriate Adult Provision and Children in detention after Charge (CJJI, 2011)
- Thematic inspection recommendations to youth offending partnerships (YJB, 2015)