To safeguard the interests of children and adults who may be mentally vulnerable when they are suspected of a criminal offence, ensuring that they are able to participate effectively and are treated in a fair and just manner.
People who are being investigated in relation to their involvement, or otherwise, in an offence are:
- treated fairly with respect for their legal rights and welfare entitlements
- able to participate effectively in procedures related to the investigation and any period of detention
A person is treated fairly when they are treated in compliance with their legal rights and welfare entitlements under relevant international obligations, legislation, codes of practice and approved professional practice. These include, but are not limited to: -
- freedom from abuse, bullying, threats, disrespectful treatment and neglect;
- freedom from unlawful restraint;
- an effective risk assessment by a qualified practitioner as soon as practicable and timely access to medical and mental health treatment;
- access to support, plus information and advice in an appropriate format on how to access it;
- being informed of the right to free legal advice;
- having someone informed that they have been detained and where they are;
- the right to silence;
- suitable accommodation, with cells that are clean, warm and lit;
- access to toilet and washing facilities;
- breaks in questioning to allow for food, drinks and rest periods;
- reasonable adjustments to standard provisions, criteria, practices or physical features to avoid disadvantage for people with a disability.
A person is able to participate effectively when they: -
- understand and are able to exercise their rights and entitlements (e.g. free legal advice, rest periods, food and drink, detention limits, presumption of bail);
- understand what investigatory and detention procedures involve (including disposals and bail conditions), why they are taking place and their significance;
- understand the meaning and significance of; what is said to them, questions put to them, their own replies;
- do not provide unreliable, misleading or self-incriminating information, without knowing or wishing to do so;
- do not accept or act on suggestions from others without consciously knowing or wishing to do so;
- are not confused or unclear about their position;
- are understood by police and other relevant professionals.
 Human Rights Act (1998), Article 2 (Right to life) includes a duty to put in place appropriate systems designed to protect the lives of individuals in state detention. According to the ECHR (2015), in relation to police detention, this includes but is not limited to bullet points 1-4 above.
The criminal justice system benefits from:
- the ability to hold people to account for their actions notwithstanding their age or other additional needs
- a reduced risk of evidence being ruled inadmissible
- increased legitimacy due to greater public confidence in the criminal justice system;
- increased efficiency because there fewer voir dire (trials within trials) are required in order to determine the admissibility of evidence and fewer appeals raised to higher courts;
- increased effectiveness increases because there is a reduced risk of miscarriages of justice and a reduced risk that the guilty are not being held accountable due to inadmissible evidence.
There are a number of related impacts relevant to policing, health and social care including:
- preventing self-harm and suicide;
- safeguarding children and adults from abuse and neglect;
- improving mental or physical health outcomes;
- improving wellbeing.
Research with service users has indicated common themes related to the promotion of wellbeing (including mental health, emotional wellbeing, personal dignity and freedom from abuse). Jessiman (2017) found that service users: -
- Felt supported emotionally, and more protected against mockery, intimidation, fear, dehumanising, bullying and isolation
- Appreciated the support for reasons other than those defined in PACE (identifying other personal factors such as gender or ethnicity as important in generating vulnerability)