22/10/2014 - Home Secretary: “There are not enough Appropriate Adults to support vulnerable people in police custody”
The Home Secretary today announced that she will commission NAAN to consider the problems and solutions to ensure vulnerable adults receive the support they need from AAs.
Speaking at today’s policing and mental health summit in Westminster, Home Secretary Theresa May said all vulnerable people should be able to access appropriate adults.
The Home Secretary praised the work of appropriate adults, recognising that they “provide vital support and help to de-mystify what can be an intimidating and threatening experience."
Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice, police must secure an appropriate adult whenever they detain or interview a child or mentally vulnerable adult. This includes people with mental ill health, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders.
The role is often filled by parents and carers. However, when they are unavailable, local authority youth offending teams have a legal duty to provide an appropriate adult for children. Services therefore exist across the country and are often delivered by volunteers from the local community.
Currently, no authority has a duty to provide for adults, leading to patchy funding and service provision for mentally vulnerable people.
The Home Secretary noted that, "There is evidence to suggest that there are not enough Appropriate Adults to support vulnerable people who are in police custody."
"It is right that all vulnerable people can access this invaluable service.” she said.
She went on to announce that, "The Home Office will commission the National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN) to examine this situation and help us determine where the problems lie, and what can be done to ensure that that all vulnerable adults in police custody are able to receive the support they need from Appropriate Adults."
Chris Bath, chief executive of NAAN said, "We welcome the Home Secretary's announcement today. Swift access to effective, independent, appropriate adults is critical for both police efficiency and fairness in the justice system.
"Theresa May's recognition of the need for more support for appropriate adults for mentally vulnerable adults is a significant step towards our goal of a statutory duty."
PRESS CONTACT: Chris Bath, Chief Executive, National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN)