The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone – and this certainly includes children and vulnerable adult suspects, and the work of appropriate adults. This page provides information about developments, our activities and sources of information. It is divided into the following sections:

What NAAN has been doing

The National Appropriate Adult Network has set aside it’s agreed work plans to focus on a response. This includes three interlinked areas of activity:

  • Listening to our members
  • Providing guidance
  • Representing AAs in national forums


Sadly, we have had to cancel our national professional development days for March (Cardiff) and June (Liverpool). However, we are continuing to engage with our members via:

  • Online surveys
  • Online national meetings
  • Online forum
  • Member advice service (phone and email)


We have developed a detailed coronavirus section in the guidance for coordinators section of the website. This includes information on:

  • Working with stakeholders
  • Managing demand
  • Managing availability of AAs
  • Health and safety
  • Physical presence vs remote support

This platform has also allowed us to share with our members the following coronavirus guidance produced by other organisations:

We have also been providing regular e-updates direct to our member schemes via email (a total of 15 in the month from 17th March) .  


Coronavirus has shown us all how interlinked we are. It is now clear how critical each part of the justice system is to each other and the whole.

Since the pandemic began, we have been extremely glad of the network of contacts we’ve built up over the last few years. In fact, this network has developed even further. This has made NAAN well placed to ensure that AA work, and the children and vulnerable adults they support, are included in national responses.

Our representation work has included:

  • Twice weekly engagement with organisations critical to police custody, via a Home Office chaired operational partners group
  • Providing advice to the Crown Prosecution Service on amendments to the joint interview protocol, ensuring the needs for children and vulnerable adults to have an AA physically present are recognised
  • Direct engagement with other organisations including various police forces, Youth Justice Board, Association of YOT Managers, Youth Justice Legal Centre and the Standing Committee on Youth Justice.

What’s been happening

Demand for AAs

Demand for AA services in most areas has now reduced significantly. This reflects national police guidance around the necessity of arrests and detention and a general downturn in crime. However, our some of our member report that in their areas have not seen meaningful reductions and this is a matter of concern.

Availability of AAs

Many schemes have suffered dramatic reductions in the availability of their AAs. Volunteers make up a huge percentage of the AA workforce. Many of these people are older and a more likely to have underlying health conditions. As a result, many have had to self-isolate or shield.

In response, some YOTs (who are under a statutory duty to ensure provision for children) have turned to their staff to maintain a service. Provision for adults, as always, more difficult due to the lack of statutory provision.

However, we are pleased to say that AA schemes remain operational at this time. This is due to the dedication of coordinators, staff and the many volunteers that continue to attend despite the risks to them and their families.  

Physical attendance by AAs

AAs continue to attend custody to support children and vulnerable adults.

This is a local decision but NAAN's position is that appropriate adults should continue to attend custody, subject to three requirements:

  • Detentions/procedures are necessary (cannot be delayed or avoided) 
  • Appropriate PPE is provided to AAs by police whenever it is needed
  • The custody environment is being run in a safe manner 

If any of the three requirements are not met, the AAs should decline to attend or remove themselves from custody. 

NAAN's rationale for this position is as follows:

  • Our analysis of the PACE Codes makes it clear that core detention and interview related procedures cannot take place without an AA present and remain compliant with PACE
  • Given the nature of the children and vulnerable adults being supported, and the requirements of the AA role, physical presence is critical to achieving the outcomes of the role
  • At this time, when legal advice and interview support is commonly being provided remotely, the physical presence of the AA is even more important in safeguarding rights and interests.
  • The police have a legal duty to take reasonable measures to ensure, so far is as reasonably practicable, that custody suites are safe and without risks to the health of AAs. 
  • The three requirements reflect national guidance to police forces by the NPCC
  • AA schemes have a legal duty to adopt policies which protect their AAs where police have not taken reasonable measures

While there were some early issues, it appears that in most areas the three requirements are now typically being met. NAAN will continue to monitor the situation and provide local support.

Changes in provision of legal advice

A joint interim protocol on interviews has been agreed by the CPS, NPCC, Law Society, CLSA, and LCCSA. This advocates the delivery of remote legal advice and interview support by legal representatives.

While this is not explicitly supported by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or its Codes of Practice, it is also not forbidden. All parties have said that this is a temporary measure in extremis to cope with this unprecedented public health crisis.

NAAN raised with the CPS that the protocol does not currently mention children, vulnerable adults or AAs. This has led to some misunderstandings whereby AAs have been invited to take part in interviews remotely. However, PACE has not been amended and it continues to be the case that an AA must be physically present for an interview of a child or vulnerable adult.

NAAN has contributed to a revised version of the protocol, which will clarify safeguards for vulnerable suspects, including the need for the physical presence of an AA. 

Virtual remand hearings

The use of virtual remand hearings (where people remain at the police station and are dealt with via video link, rather than attending court) is expanding.

We understand this process is being used with children and vulnerable adults. This raises questions about risks to fairness and effective participation.

AAs do not have a role in virtual courts. At this point the person has ceased to be a suspect held under PACE and has become a defendant. However, a number of NAAN members report being asked by police to provide support to children and vulnerable adults.

This role is outside that of an AA and has not been defined. If attending physical court, a child would have the support of a YOT court support officer, as well as access to other services. We are aware that some YOTs are providing officers to support children for virtual remand hearings – and this is to be encouraged. The question of support for vulnerable adults remains open.

NAAN has raised the issue with the Ministry of Justice, which is considering the matter.


For further information:

  • AA scheme coordinators should see our guidance for coordinators (requires organisational membership and login)
  • Scheme AAs should contact their local coordinator, however, you can refer to iKAAN, our resource for AAs (if your scheme is a NAAN member you can register for free)
  • Police should see our information for police 
  • Family members should refer to the information on this page. This provides general guidance on the AA role, and details about what the police cannot do without an AA physically present. If you have any queries about the impact of corononavirus on health and safety, please ask the police custody suite that has asked you to attend. Police are expected to provide you with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).   


2018 theretohelp


The report

Key facts



Social media

Press and Media

Latest updates


As Home Secretary, Theresa May commissioned NAAN to produce the There to Help (2015) report. The report found significant problems with the police's identification of vulnerable suspects and the availability of appropriate adults when they were required in England and Wales.

There to Help 2 follows up on progress between 2013/14 and 2017/18. It is based on data from:

The research took place prior to the significant July 2018 changes to PACE Code C relating to vulnerable adult suspects. This means that police were required to obtain an AA if they had any suspicion that a person may have had any mental disorder or was otherwise mentally vulnerable.  

The Report

  • There to Help 2 (2019): Ensuring provision of appropriate adults for mentally vulnerable adults detained or interviewed by police (Full report including executive summary - 115 pages)

Key facts

  • Police recorded the need for an appropriate adult in 6% of around 1 million adult detentions and interviews in 2017/18.
  • This was up from 3% in 2013/14, however academic studies have indicated that as many as 39% of adults in police custody have a mental disorder or intellectual disability. 
  • There were large local variations, particularly in voluntary interviews, as different police forces recorded rates of AA need between 0% to 24%.
  • If police forces with the highest rates were representative of need, at least 111,445 detentions and voluntary interviews of vulnerable adults took place without need for an AA being recorded by police (although if the actual rate of need is 39% this would be closer to 400,000 per year).
  • Certain mental illnesses were less likely to result in an AA; 54% of adults known to have dementia, and 19% known to have anxiety disorder such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), had an AA. 
  • Appropriate adults were not provided to 34% of adults known to have a learning disability and 73% of adults known to have a mental health diagnosis.
  • Where police had no access to an organised AA scheme, they were half as likely to record an adult as needing one.
  • 82% of England and Wales had some kind of organised appropriate adult scheme for adults (up from 52% in 2013/14) leaving 16% of the population in areas with no service. 
  • Adult social services remained the largest funder of provision, providing around two-thirds of funding for AAs. However, in the continud absence of a funded statutory duty, the growth in AA schemes was largely due to police forces funding provision, raising questions around independence. 


To ensure that all police forces record, retrieve, analyse and share reliable data:

  1. Forces should ensure their information systems for custody and voluntary interviews can be used by police officers to quickly and simply record and retrieve reliable data on the need for, application of, and source of AAs, cross referencing with data on protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (especially race and gender) to monitor for bias.

  2. At a local level, forces should ensure this data is regularly shared with the local Head of Custody, Head of Criminal Justice, Office of the PCC, AA commissioners and providers.

  3. At a national level, the NPCC should collate and share this data on an annual basis.

  4. Forces should share best practice in the design and use of information systems (encouraged and facilitated by the NPCC, College of Policing, HM Inspectorates, IOPC, and PCCs).

To ensure that police identify all vulnerable adult suspects and apply the AA safeguard correctly:

  1. The evidence base for the new (July 2018) PACE Code C definition of ‘vulnerability’ should be strengthened with research, and alternative terms considered (e.g. risks to justice, needs).

  2. The NPCC should lead a partnership to develop, test and roll out an evidence-based national screening tool that can effectively and efficiently identify when people may be a ‘vulnerable person’ as defined in PACE Code C 2018 (e.g. with College of Policing, Liaison and Diversion, and academics from forensic psychology, forensic psychiatry and law).

  3. Liaison and Diversion should screen 100% of suspects as soon as is possible in custody (subject to operational hours) and prior to any interview (including voluntary interviews).

  4. Police forces should increase officer and staff awareness of the criminal justice risks and procedural safeguards associated with vulnerable suspects in custody and voluntary interviews, supported by NAAN, NPCC and College of Policing APP and learning resources.

  5. Liaison and Diversion should ensure that its staff understand the PACE definition of vulnerability and AA requirement, through induction training and professional development.

To ensure that effective AA provision is available when and where required:

  1. The Government should achieve parity for adult suspects by establishing a funded statutory duty on local authorities to ensure AA provision which is independent of policing as required under PACE, as is the case for children under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s.38(4).

  2. In the continued absence of a statutory duty, the Government could mirror its success with Liaison and Diversion by providing programme funding to local authorities to establish AA provision under a clear framework for ensuring standards, accountability and sustainability.

  3. The evidence base regarding the outcomes achieved by appropriate adults (for vulnerable people, police and the justice system) should be strengthened through further research.

  4. The Government should ensure that, in addition to HMICFRS, HMIP and ICVs holding police accountable for their responsibilities (identifying need and promptly contacting AAs), the commissioning and provision of AAs is made accountable via existing health and social care inspectors/regulators, recognising the importance of the AA’s independence from policing.

  5. NAAN, Home Office, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and others should promote adherence to the National Standards (2018) and local completion of the national self-assessment tool. 


Social media

Click on the tweet below (not the Guardian article link) to view a Twitter thread by Chris Bath, highlighting the main findings and recommendations from the report. 


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This page contains information for NAAN members on how to complete a data return. Data returns are currently sent out annually. You do not need to use this page unless you have recieved a request for an update. 

Information for publication on the NAAN Map

Click on a heading for instructions on how to complete your data return. 

What are you going to do with this information?

The NAAN Map is a public resource which provides information about AA schemes to assist:

  • prospective volunteers and others to identify their local AA scheme
  • stakeholders to find out whether a scheme is a NAAN Member
  • commissioners to identify local providers

Users click on a local authority area and get access to information. Here's an example:


 It's important that this information remains up to date and accurate. NAAN relies on members to help it achieve a useful resource - which in turn helps you!

The following information will be published on the publically available NAAN Map.

Beneficiary group

A beneficiary group is a combination of (a) a local authority area and (b) a type of person - either adults or children. Even if you only have one contract, you will have more than one beneficiary group if:

  • you cover both adults and children; and/or
  • you cover more than one area.

Operating hours

The hours during which your scheme can provide an AA. Examples include:

  • 09:00 to Midnight / Monday to Friday
  • 24 hours / 7 days a week

Volunteer scheme

This is to help prospective volunteers see which areas might have opportunities.

If the AAs for a beneficiary group are:
  • mainly volunteers, answer yes
  • mainly paid, answer no.
If you occasionally use paid staff or volunteers, you can note this in the ‘additional notes’ if you wish

Web link

The best webpage to which to send prospective volunteers. Often this is a page on your organisation’s website that provides details about the AA scheme – but it might just be the homepage.

First Name and Last Name

The name of the person you would like prospective volunteers to contact. This is often the primary contact on your NAAN account.


The phone number of the person you would like prospective volunteers to contact. This is often the landline number for the primary contact on your NAAN account.


The email address you would like prospective volunteers to use for enquiries. This might be:
  • the email address for the primary contact on your NAAN account; or
  • a dedicated or general email address

Additional notes

Any additional information you would like to be displayed on the NAAN map

Information for NAAN (will not be published on the NAAN Map)

What are you going to do with this information?

The NAAN data request also includes information that is not for use on the map. 

We are seeking to verify and collect information in order to:

  • understand the current level of AA provision across the network
  • understand the current level of demand on AA provision
  • understand the current level of funding for AA provision

This will assist us in our efforts to improve funding and commissioning of AA provision. This includes will helping us to understand how things have changed since the There to Help (2015) report.

We understand that some of the following information may be commercial in confidence. As in the past, information you provide to us under the following headings will not be published or shared without your explicit consent. We will only publish or share information:

  • which is already in the public domain (e.g. on a commissioner’s website)
  • which is anonymised or aggregated so that your scheme cannot be identified


We are seeking to understand where provision to a beneficiary group is part of a larger AA contract.

For example a beneficiary group (spreadsheet row) might have one of the following in the Contract column:

  • Single (it covers either children or adults in one local authority area)

  • Combined (it covers both adults and children in one local authority area)

  • Multi-area (it covers more than one local authority area)

  • Multi-area + combined (it covers both adults and children in more than one LA area)

If you cover both adults and children or cover multiple areas, but these are commissioned under separate contracts, please use the label “Single”.

Where there are combined or multi-area contracts, we need to be able to identify what is bundled together. We can do this by giving them a relevant name. So, examples of what you might enter in the Contract column (for each row) are:

  • Single

  • Combined (Kent)

  • Multi-area (West Mercia)

  • Multi-area + combined (Greater Manchester)

Larger providers may have a mix of different types of contract.

We would also like to know about any provision that is part of a non-AA contract, such as a local advocacy contract.

Funding source

While some organisation’s AA provision is funded by a single source (e.g. the YOT), others have more complicated arrangements.
At a basic level, we’d just like to know which sources are contributing e.g. Local authority, CCG, PCC, police. But ideally, we’d like to understand who is supporting which beneficiaries. So for example:

If you have a combined children and adults scheme in a single area:
  • Children: Local authority (YOT)
  • Adults: Local authority (adult social care)
In a multi-area contract this might be:
  • Area 1 (adults): PCC
  • Area 2 (adults): Local authority (adult social care)

We do understand that some scheme leaders will not be aware of the sources of funding that support their scheme. But if you are able to find out, please let us know.

Funding (annual)

With the increase in commissioning, a lot of AA funding information is now in the public domain on commissioner’s websites and tender portals. However, this does not always relate to how much providers actually get. We want to be able to track how much investment is actually going into the sector.
We appreciate that this may be sensitive information and that some scheme leaders are not party to the finances. We are grateful for whatever information you can provide. However, in an ideal world:
  • If you have a single scheme, beneficiary group and funder, simply provide the total annual budget for the scheme. If it is an in-house scheme, please factor in staff time (including yours).
  • If you have separate funding sources for both adults and children, and you know how much each pays in each year, please enter the amounts separately in the relevant rows.
  • If you have multiple contracts, please detail how much each one is worth each year.

Call outs (annual per beneficiary group)

We want to be able to track trends in AA call outs, both for children and adults.

Many members have previously provided information on the total number of call-outs their organisation does each year. Now we are attempting to find out how those break down into areas and children vs adults.

If you have the data, in the Call outs column, please enter the number of call outs per year for each beneficiary group. For example:

Beneficiary Group


Call outs

Local authority A (Adults)

Combined (A)


Local authority A (Children)

Combined (A)



However, if it easier to report at the contract level, that’s fine. For example:

Beneficiary Group


Call outs

Local authority X (Adults)

Multi-area + combined (XYZ)

1000 (total adults for contract)

Local authority Y (Adults)

Multi-area + combined (XYZ)

1000 (total adults for contract)

Local authority Z (Adults)

Multi-area + combined (XYZ)

1000 (total adults for contract)

Local authority X (Children)

Multi-area + combined (XYZ)

1000 (total children for contract)

Local authority Y (Children)

Multi-area + combined (XYZ)

1000 (total children for contract)

Local authority Z (Children)

Multi-area + combined (XYZ)

1000 (total children for contract)

We know you are busy and this can be complicated for some schemes. Please use whatever data you have to hand and just make a note so that we can see what the numbers relate to.

Latest updates

Thank you for your interest in the consultation on the National Standards Review 2018. Here is our progress report:

  • Member consultation - complete
  • Public consultation - complete 
  • Analysis of submissions - complete 
  • Amendments - complete 
  • Approval by NAAN Board of Trustees - complete 
  • Approval by stakeholders - complete 
  • Pubilcation - complete 

View the latest National Standards.

Consultation feedback

NAAN sought to consult as widely as possible with stakeholders in developing the standards. This included the following actions.

A member workshop: A workshop on the national standards enabled members, working in small groups, to discuss and amend an early draft of the revised standards.

Public consultation: A public consultation was run based on a draft updated in light of the member workshop. Written submissions were received from the following organisations and individuals.

  • Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
  • Association of Youth Offending Team Managers
  • Dr Harriet Pierpoint, Centre for Criminology at University of South Wales
  • Headway, the brain injury association
  • HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Service and HM Inspectorate of Prisons (joint)
  • Home Office
  • Independent Custody Visiting Association
  • Independent Office for Police Conduct
  • National Police Chief’s Council
  • NHS England (Liaison and Diversion)
  • Northumbria AA Scheme
  • Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire
  • Police Federation of England and Wales
  • Thames Valley Police
  • The Law Society
  • The Youth Justice Board
  • YSS

Service user participation: NAAN commissioned advice from service users on the public consultation version. Our thanks go to:

  • Chris Hilliard, an expert in relation to autism
  • Members of the Working for Justice group (facilitated by KeyRing), experts in relation to learning disability
  • Moira Tombs (Encompassing Health), expert in relation to mental health


Public Consultation

The deadline for responses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. was March 9th 2018. However, you can still access the consultation information below. 

You can download all consultation files in a Zip file or select from below. 

Please start by reading the introductory letter to the consultation. 

The draft standards are divided into six sections, each focusing on a different area of AA provision.  

  1. Scheme development (strategic)
  2. Recruitment and selection
  3. Initial training
  4. Managing, supporting and developing AAs
  5. Service provision
  6. Effective practice 

If you would like to know more about the sources referenced in the draft standards, please read the evidence review compiled by Dr Dehaghani of Cardiff University's School of Law. 

The existing standards are mapped against the draft revised standards in the consultation documents above. However, standalone copies of the existing national standards are also available. 


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