Assessing demand

In order to consider likely budgets and potential delivery models, it will be necessary to develop robust estimates of both current and predicted demand. The accuracy of these estimates will be dependent on accessing key data, understanding its limitations and gaining local intelligence about future trends and changes. 


Arrests for notifable offences under PACE 1984

The Home Office’s Police powers and procedures England and Wales statistics break down arrests by local police force and age category. Police forces already have to collect and provide this information to the Home Office, so no extra work is involved. This makes it relatively simple to assess trends in arrests over time.

The statistic are normally published in October for the year up to the preceding March. For example, the arrest statistics up to March 2017 are available here.

The data is provided at a national level and broken down (e.g. by force, sex and age)

arrests 2017

 arrests force 2017

arrests sex 2017

Non-notifiable offences under PACE 1984

A limitation of the Home Office data is that includes only offences that are considered serious enough to be ‘notifiable’ offences. Non-notifiable offences do not need to be recorded for statistical purposes. These include minor motoring offences, TV license evasion and drunk and disorderly.

This is important for deveoping an AA scheme because non-notifiable offences are not insignificant in terms of numbers, as indicated by the table below.

Year ending December 2016



Penalty Notice for Disorder





1.1 million


Arrests for terrorism-related offences

In addition to criminal matters dealt wiht under the POlice and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), a small number of people are arrested under specific terrorism legislation. This makes up a very small proportion of arrests and detentions. For example, the total number across England and Wales in the year to September 2017 was 400 (of which 18 were aged under 18). 

Despite the small number of cases, it is important to include provision for terrorism related cases. They are often (though not always) very serious cases and can require longer periods of support.

The Home Office regularly publishes statistics on arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000

Refusal to authorise detention

It should also be noted that arrest figures are not exactly the same as custody detention figures. This is because it is possible for a police custody sergeant to refuse to detain a person who has been arrested and brought to their custody suite. However, the figures are likely to be very similar.

Local data

Local police forces should be able to provide more recent and accurate data on arrests and detentions. If possible, this should include consideration of non-notifiable offences and the extent to which they involve detentions or voluntary interviews.

National Resources

[1] Ministry of Justice (2017) Criminal Justice System statistics quarterly: December 2016, Overview tables, Table Q1.2 – Recorded crime and notifiable offence outcomes 2012 to 2016 Link

[2] Office for National Statistics (2017), Crime in England and Wales: Bulletin Tables year ending March 2017

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All people who are, or appear to be, aged under 18, require an appropriate adult. The minimum age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old.

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Reliable data on vulnerable adults may be challenging to locate and access. Home Office statistics do not provide data on the number of adults detained or interviewed who either should have been or was supported by an AA .

Police forces may be able to provide an insight into levels of demand.  However, the quality of this data will be limited for three main reasons:

  • The challenge faced by police in identifying mental vulnerability; and
  • AAs are not always called even where mental vulnerability is identified;
  • The capacity of police information systems.


Academic studies suggests that mental vulnerability is under-identified in police custody[1]. Figures provided by police forces across England and Wales suggest that an average 3% of detentions of adults involve an AA[2].However, this ranges from below 1% to 9% across different forces. A review of academic evidence suggests that between 11%-22% of adults in police custody have a relevant condition[3]

This significant level of unmet demand appears to have remained similar over many years. In 1993, the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice (para. 84) reported that (a) police identified the need for an AA in 4% of adult detentions; and (b) the actual level of need was 15%-20%. 

Table: Results of prevalence studies of mental ill health & mental vulnerability in police custody

prevalance table

Failure to contact an AA

Research has shown that, in practice, police often ignore the PACE definitions and thresholds (relating to when an AA must be called) in favour of their own definitions of who requires one.[4] Police officers do not always require an AA even where mental vulnerability is identified.

In one study, a computerised risk assessment developed by clinicians was found to make a significant difference to the rate at which mental illness and other mental vulnerability was identified by police - but made no difference to the proportion of cases for which an AA was required. 

Developers should also be aware that the level of apparent demand is likely to be affected by levels of AA service provision. Data provided by forces indicates a correlation between the rate of indentification of need for an AA by police and the availabilty of AAs to the police. In areas with historically poor provision, data is likely to underestimate actual demand. Developers should consider how current levels of demand may change as a new scheme becomes available and awareness increases. 

Chart: The effect of AA service provision on police identification of need (There to Help, 2015)

ID rates AA services

Local attitudes, training and policies can also have a significant effect on whether the identification of mental vulnerability results in an AA being called (as required by PACE). Early data collected by liaison and diversion pathfinder areas shows significant variation in whether people that engaged with their service also had an AA. In theory, this should be approaching 100% as L&D is primarily a mental health / vulnerabilty service.

Chart: Percentage of adults engaging with L&D who had an AA, by area [1st Sept - 31st Dec 2014] (There to Help, 2015)

 ID rates LD

Police information systems

In addition, police information systems are not designed to capture and report this data. Some electronic systems have a specific field with a ‘drop down box’ to record that an AA is required. In others, the need for an AA is captured somewhere in ‘free text’, making it very time-consuming to retrieve the data.  If a manual trawl of records is required to extract data and it may be more efficient and effective to conduct a time-limited ‘snapshot’ sample in custody. 

Most forces have not historically captured data on the source of the AA (i.e. whether there was demand on the organised scheme).

Most forces do not currently record information about the needs of people who are interviewed voluntarily. Specific practices are extremely varied across forces and local enquiries should be made. 

Accessing data from partners

Local partnerships may have access to additional statistics on local prevalence of relevant conditions. This may include data from liaison and diversion, public health and the local joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA).

When considering prevalance data, the context of police contact should be kept in mind. For example: 

  • A clinical diagnosis is not required in order to meet the the PACE threshold
  • Along with the fact that the prevalence of people with mental health conditions is higher in police custody than in the general population[5].

Developers should be aware that, in addition to prevalance data, L&D staff may hold data on the number of people who have engaged with their service who had an AA. It is important to note that this is likely to be lower than the actual level of need. 

If there is an existing AA scheme in place, it should hold call-out data which should be compared to police and other partner data to identify gaps in identification. 

[1] NAAN (2015), There to Help - Paper A: Literature Review p.4

[2] NAAN (2015), There to Help - Paper D: Results: police force data, AA scheme survey and the Liaison & Diversion Programme

[3] NAAN (2015), There to Help - Paper A: Literature Review

[4] Dehaghani, R. (2016). He’s Just Not That Vulnerable: Exploring the Implementation of the Appropriate Adult Safeguard in Police Custody, The Howard Journal Vol 55 No 4. December 2016

[5] NAAN (2015), There to Help - Paper A: Literature Review pages 1-3

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Voluntary interviews can be considered to require a single AA call out. However, the situation in custody is more complicated.

There are a number of distinct phases to custody (booking in, identification, interview, charge and disposal) for which an AA should be present. There can be a significant time gap between booking-in and interview, and again between interview and charge. This will vary depending on the complexity of the case, the extent to which police choose to expedite the investigation, the availability of police resources, the need for rest periods and the length of delay while the Crown Prosecution Service make a charging decision.

A single custody episode could typically generate between one and three AA call outs. In addition to the above factors, this will also depend on when, and for how long, an AA was present. For example, if an AA attended immediately after detention and stayed until charge/bail, this would be only one call out (though it may be several hours). However, a single call out could also represent an AA arriving shortly before interview and leaving immediately afterwards.

Police information systems are unable to be able to capture and report this complexity of dat. It may not be possible to easily distinguish from the data where multiple AAs have been called for one detention episode and where multiple AAs have been called for multiple detentions. It may also be unable to differentiate between parental and scheme-based AAs. 

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A PACE interview (an interview held under caution) of a suspect may take place without that person being arrested and detained. Of the necessity to arrest criteria are not met, a suspect may be invited to attend an interview voluntarily.

This approach has a number of advantages, including avoiding the negative psychological impact of detention on vulnerable adults and children and reducing risk for the police.

“During the course of our inspections it was clear that custody could have been avoided for a number of vulnerable adults and children, had other action been taken by police officers, or other services been available to support these individuals”.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (2015)

Voluntary attendance appears to be an increasing trend in police practice. It is therefore likely that data provided by the police custody function will show a downward trend in terms of demand. When developing or commissioning a scheme, it is important to also take account of demand for voluntary interviews to avoid underestimating demand.

However, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has noted that data collection on voluntary attendance interviews is has been limited across police forces[1].  The National Police Chiefs Council has confirmed that current information systems do not have the capacity to record and retrieve this data.

With no historical records it will be necessary to estimate the demand. As an indication, HMIC found that across three police forces over 12 months:

  • Recorded instances of voluntary attendance: 10,898
  • Custody throughput: 57,170

This suggest that voluntary attendance makes up around 16% of the total instances. Therefore an estimate of voluntary interviews could be arrived at by custody throughput x 0.19. Further estimates would have to me made regarding the number of adults for whom an AA would have been required. However, the use of voluntary interviews is likely to vary significantly between forces. A snapshot survey over a fixed period may be a more reliable indicator of demand. .

The same PACE safeguards apply to voluntary interviews and appropriate adults are required for the same groups of people as in custody. However, the need for AAs in voluntary interviews may currently be being under-identified because:

  • responsibility to apply the AA safeguard rests with the interviewing officer who (relative to the custody sergeant) is not independent of the investigation, likely to have less knowledge of the PACE Codes, and may have less experience in identifying vulnerability;
  • it is less likely that there will be access to liaison and diversion services to support police decision-making around vulnerability in adult suspects.

[1] HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (2015), The welfare of vulnerable people in police custody 

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Organised schemes are not expected to meet all of the demand for appropriate adults.

There is no national data set on the proportion of AA callouts which are served by organised schemes.

Police information systems do not typically capture the source of an appropriate adult (e.g. parents vs organised scheme). Where this is captured, it will usually rely on custody officers inputting free text rather than dedicated database fields. This can make it difficult to retrieve the data for assessing demand. 


Under PACE 1984, in the case of children parents should be the first people considered as the AA.

Youth offending teams will hold data on the number of times organised provision has been used. This can be compared to police data to establish the proportion of AAs coming from other sources.


Under PACE Code C, an experienced person is considered preferable as the AA but the person may choose a family member if they prefer.

Where an existing scheme exists, the provider and/or commissioner will hold the relevant data. This can be compared to police data to establish the proportion of AAs coming from other sources.

If there is no AA scheme currently in place, a snapshot survey can be used to collect data.

Voluntary interviews

Local partnerships should seek to ensure that PACE safeguards are applied fully in voluntary interviews (as in custody). This includes:

  • the identification of vulnerability in adults;

  • the requesting of an AA;

  • the responsiveness of organised AA schemes to requests for voluntary interviews (including outside of police stations).

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Time of day

A key decision will be the required hours of operation. This is critical both to police efficiency and to minimising time spent in custody by children and vulnerable adults. Particular consideration should be given to the importance of avoiding unnecessary overnight detentions, which generate significant risks for police and for vulnerable individuals, due to lack of AA provision.

Decisions should be informed by patterns of demand, considering existing provision and relevant accountability frameworks.  

Under PACE, if a custody officer authorises the detention of a child or vulnerable adult they must, as soon as practicable, inform the appropriate adult and ask them to come to the station. Local authorities are under a statutory duty to ensure the provision of AAs for children. The law does not limit this duty in any way.

"This duty applies at any time of day or night. You should consider requests for attendance out-of-hours in line with the best interests of the individual child."
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Thematic reports by the Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorates (HMIP, HMIC, HMCPI, CQC) have observed that vulnerable suspects taken into custody late in the evening did not have access to an AA until the following day – causing an avoidable night in a cell. They have recommended:

HMIC/HMIP Expectations clearly require that “There are no delays in securing an appropriate adult and they are available 24 hours a day.”


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From a policing perspective, it is desirable to have access to an AA whenever they are needed. Delays in accessing an AA due to a scheme being unavailable at the point of detention can cause delays in carrying out the investigation or detention processes. This can place pressure on police who are working to the ‘PACE clock’ detention time limits. This in turn can lead to breaches of PACE. 

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From the perspective of a vulnerable person, the unavailability of an AA at the time of detention can also have negative consequences. For example, it may result in them spending several hours in police detention without understanding their rights, for example the right to free legal representation. It may even result in them being ‘bedded down’ for a night in the cells rather than the matter being dealt with quickly.

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In addition to analysing the volume of demand, the pattern of demand should be considered. This is a critical question for commissioners seeking to ensure supply matches and has implications for the approach to service design.

Police custody information systems hold data on the times of arrest, detention and release. In addition to the raw data, discussions should be held with police to understand their current local resourcing and practices overnight. Are there considerations that are not reflected in the custody data? For example: -

  • Is demand being shifted to different custody suites due to the current lack of AA services?
  • Are late night arrests ‘bedded down’ for the night simply due to lack of AA provision, or are there also issues with availability of solicitors or interviewing officers?

Any issues will need to be dealt with holistically to avoid developing a service that is not used in practice.

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It is necessary to consider how much time will AAs be required for. Basic legal compliance with the PACE Act and its Codes does not equate to effective practice as determined by national bodies (e.g. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Inspectorate of Prisons (joint custody inspections), the Youth Justice Board, the Children’s Commissioner, National Appropriate Adult Network). The same is likely to be true of the expectations of local stakeholders, who will often seek high standards.

"We found that Appropriate Adult provision has evolved into being another part of the custody process, with a focus on complying with PACE 1984 rather than safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people."
Criminal Justice Joint Inspection (2011) Who's looking out for the children?


Under PACE 1984, although the police can in very limited circumstances detain a person for up to 96 hours, more than 99% of detentions are less than 24 hours duration.

Academic studies given an indication of average detention times and suggest that they have increased over the years. 


Avg. detention time

Philips and Brown (1998)

6 hours 40 mins

Kemp (2013)

10 hours

HMIC (2015)

11 hours 


There will be local variation. HMIC (2015)found that average times ranged from 8 to 13 hours between forces.[1] Kemp (2013) found significant variations between police stations within the same force. 

Local data should be sought. For example, the average length of detention varies between poliage detention time for the Metropolitan Police March 2014 – March 2016 was 13.8 hours. There is no national requirement to submit local data on detention times for people detained under PACE, whether vulnerable or otherwise. However, HMI Constabulary and HMI Prisons’ joint inspections of police custody include average lengths of detention for police forces.

While long average detention times may indicate issues which the police need to tackle, long times do not always indicate poor practice. Vulnerable suspects have been found to be the least likely to activate their right to free legal advice. On study foudn that while 45% of 10-to 17-year-olds  requested legal advice this was just 39% of 10- to 13-year-olds.[2] 

Average detention times have been found to be longer for suspects that received legal advice.[3] It is important to understand whether the practices underpinning a given detention time reflect fair treatment of people who are detained. Introducing effective AA provision means imporved application of rights. In some cases this may involve increasing detention times (e.g  as a result of ensuring legal advice) while in others it decreases (e.g. as a result of representations about the necessity to detain). 

Terrorism Act

If a person is arrested under terrorism legislation, the maximum period is 14 days. However, around 40% are under one day and 90% are for fewer than 7 days[4].

National Resources

[2] Kemp (2013), Blast II Report, London: Legal Services Research Centre

[3] Kemp (2013), Blast II Report, London: Legal Services Research Centre

[4] Home Office (2017), Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000, quarterly update to December 2016: data tables, Table A.02:  Persons arrested under s.41 of the Terrorism Act 20001, by period of detention and outcome

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PACE sets out the police processes and procedures for which it is mandatory for an AA to be present (see the 'Role' section of this guidance).

Research indicates that, currently, the minimum legal requirements are often not being met in some areas. The There to Help report (NAAN 2015) contains relevant survey data. AA providers (nationally) and custody officers (in one force) were asked about the likely presence of AAs for adults for whom one was required. Both groups indicated regular breaches of the PACE Act and Codes.

There were however, significant differences in the perspectives of the two groups. While custody officers confident that all interviews in custody requiring an AA did involve one, there were significantly less confident on all other measures.

When assessing need for a new or additional service, a quick survey of front line officers (and any existing AA providers) can help to establish the 'health' of current arrangements. 

In early 2017, the Children’s Commissioner requested detailed data from all youth offending teams. Although no report has yet been pubilshed, copies of any data submissions should be obtainable from the local YOT.

PACE procedures low

PACE procedures high

PACE procedures officers

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The required level of AA involvement should be carefully considered and built into decisions on scheme design. In addition to enabling the police to comply with PACE, AA scheme developers / commissioners should consider what level of involvement (and therefore time commitment) will be necessary to:

  • achieve the intended outcomes of the AA role; and
  • avoid contributing to longer detention times for vulnerable people.

Interviews are typically a point of focus for police. However, as only 20 minutes are typically spent interviewing (much more in serious cases) they actually form a small percentage of a person’s experience.

A detention episode can involve gaps of time during which the police investigators are not interacting with the vulnerable suspect. These gaps may range in size due to:

  • the complexity of a case;
  • the type of evidence which needs to be considered;
  • unexpectedly high levels of demand and high priority matters at certain times
  • under-resourcing;
  • a failure to expedite cases;
  • the person’s need for rest (right to an 8 hour unbroken period of rest in every 24 hours)

An AA’s presence in between these interactions should not be assumed to always be an inefficiency. The AA has a duty to be present to the extent that it is necessary to achieve their outcomes. They have a role outside of police procedures and interactions. 

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HMI Constabulary (2015) found that children waited on average 5.5 hours for an AA and that delays in the provision of AAs was one of the factors contributing to children being detained for unnecessarily long periods.[1]

Vulnerable people may find detention destabilising and will act to get out as quickly as possible.[2] This makes it more likely that they will admit to things that they have not done.[3]  

AAs should attend as soon as possible and within maximum response times set out in National Standards. As the National Standards must take into account a wide variety of geographies, developers/commissioners may wish to encourage, incentivise or require quicker response times.  

It is not appropriate to delay the request for, or arrival of, an AA until police and/or the legal representative are ready for the vulnerable suspect to be interviewed. 

[1] HMIC (2015) (Tim bateman presentation

[2] Littlechild, 1998

[3] Redditch and Goodman, 2003

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Under the PACE Codes of Practice, a vulnerable suspect has a right to a private consultation with their AA at any time. They do not detail specific considerations or actions for an AA during a private consultation. However, private consultations form a critical part of effective practice for AAs. The reasons for a consultation will vary according the stage of the investigation and the needs of the individual over time. For example:

  • on arrival at the station (to introduce self, establish trust, build and effective working relationship, identify and discuss support needs, ensure understanding)
  • before any interview (e.g. to ensure understanding of process, discuss support needs)
  • during an interview (e.g. where there is confusion or distress)
  • after interviews (e.g. to ensure welfare and next processes)
  • prior to decisions about an out of court disposal (to check understanding of process and implications to ensure consent is informed).
  • at any time (e.g. to safeguard the psychological welfare of a vulnerable person by talking to them about matters unconnected to the justice process, giving them something else to focus on
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Police are required to deal with the cases of all people in custody expeditiously.

"All persons in custody must be dealt with expeditiously, and released as soon as the need for detention no longer applies.
A custody officer must perform the functions in this Code as soon as practicable."
PACE Code C 1.1 , 1.1A

This is particularly important in relation to suspects for whom an AA is required, as longer periods in custody may put them at particular risk of negative outcomes.

During gaps between interactions between police and a suspect, the AA can safeguard rights and welfare by inquiring with police as to progress and ensuring that procedures are carried out as soon as it practicable.

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Once the police have sufficient evidence, there is a decision-making process as to whether to charge or take alternative action. Although the evidence-gathering phase has been completed, the role of the AA is not complete. 

Decision-making can take a significant period of time due to internal police processes, shift handovers and/or referral to the Crown Prosecution Service. In the latter case, it is common for there be a delay of around 3 to 4 hours during which the person will likely remain in detention.

Under PACE, police are expected to make reasonable efforts to advise the AA of when the decision likely to be made, so that they can be present. If the AA cannot be available the person should be bailed. In some instances, it may therefore be possible for an AA to leave temporarily. However, important AA activities during this time include: -

  • make representations about bail and any conditions attached to it
  • make representations regarding possible justice outcomes, such as restorative justice;
  • engage with police to expedite a charging decision.

If the wait is likely to be extensive, it may be possible for AAs to leave temporarily and carry out these activities remotely. However, AAs will need to feel confident that police will:

  • engage with them remotely
  • contact them and provide sufficient notice to attend in time.

In more complex cases as charging decision may take days or weeks and so the person may be released on bail pending charge.

At the point the decision is made and carried out, the AA has an important role including:

  • ensuring understanding of any charge;
  • ensuring understanding of any use of bail, particularly where there are conditions attached;
  • ensuring understanding of the implications of admitting guilt and/or giving consent to receive any alternative to charging, such as a caution or conditional caution, and is able to access legal advice before doing so;
  • ensuring that post-charge rights are respected, including the requirement to transfer a child who is charged and refused bail to local authority accommodation.

In very rare cases there may be post-charge questioning, which will require the presence of an AA. This is more common in terrorism-related cases but can occur under PACE in exceptional circumstances. 

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Scheme developers / commissioners will need to consider the impact of travel times for AAs. This will vary significantly depending on local geography and transport infrastructure, as well as the number and variety of locations AAs will be expected to cover. Understanding the level of flexibility and responsiveness required will help to inform choices about the design of provision. 

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Historically, AA provision has been heavily focused on custody, where most interviews have taken place. This has had an impact on scheme decisions around who is best placed to take on the role and in what locations recruitment effort should be focused. Equally, the trend towards voluntary interviews is likely to impact on these decisions.

It is important to determine both current practice and any planned changes that may affect the locations in which AAs will be required. This should be done in partnership with the police force.

The location of custody suites should be mapped. The area to be covered by the AA scheme may consist of lots of small police station stations or one or two larger facilities. Not all police stations have custody facilities. 

Developers should engage with the police force to understand future strategy and trends in relation to the police estate. Are custody locations likely to change? For example, in several areas, a number of local custody facilities are being closed in favour of one or two large custody centres serving a large area. Often this involves custody moving from town centres to more rural locations. This can have a significant effect on the design and running of AA schemes, for example in relation to recruitment drives and travel methods/expenses.

The British Transport Police is a non-territorial police force. Its officers typically rely on use of the custody suites of local police forces. Scheme developers should consider what level of demand this might generate on a local AA scheme. 

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Police practice in relation to the location and processes for interviews varies. This may be the result of practice that has developed organically, local policy or simply the availability of equipment. It is important to understand whether voluntary interviews are occurring:

  • in police stations with custody suites (all or specific ones?)
  • in police stations (all or specific ones?)
  • in other establishments (e.g. youth offending team offices)
  • in private homes.
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Dedicated TACT detention suites cover large areas. If one of these suites is located in the area of the intended AA scheme, provision for terrorism cases will need to be considered as part of development or commissioning.

tact regions

[Image provided courtesy of the Independent Custody Visiting Association]

TACT Suites

There is a designated TACT suite serving each of the following regions: North East, North West, West Midlands, South East, London. We are unable to identify the exact locations in this resource for security reasons. Commissioners who are unaware of the location of the TACT custody suite that serves their region should refer to the National Police Chiefs Council's Counter Terrorism webpage and can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information. 

In addition, some PACE custody suites are 'TACT-enabled', meaning that they can be used for TACT detentions prior to a transfer to a dedicated suite. These suites will also require TACT-trained AA coverage, though on a much more rare basis.

The police will be able to provide information about which custody facilities handle TACT matters.

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Occasionally, police officers may wish to conduct PACE procedures with people who are already in post-sentence custody.

It is often unclear as to who is responsible for acting as, providing, and paying for an appropriate adult in these situations. This is especially the case where the child or vulnerable adult is detained outside their home local authority. Furthermore, prison officers are not explicitly excluded from acting as appropriate adults under PACE but there may be valid concern about how a court may view their appropriateness in the role.  In some areas, AA schemes insist on vulnerable suspects begin brought to a police custody suite in the interests of fairness. In others, interviews in prisons and/or YOIs are supported in order to avoid vulnerable people having to travel.

Scheme developers / commissioners are advised to be explicit about how such cases will be dealt with. This should include consideration of police force policy on when it is appropriate to interview a person in a prison or YOI, rather than bringing them to a custody suite.

In relation to children, the Youth Justice Board states, “Each YOT has a legal duty to provide appropriate adults for all those who need them within the geographical area they cover. This is irrespective of the specific location or the home area of the child”.

In relation to vulnerable adults the situation is less clear. However, under the Care Act 2014 (England) and Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, local authorities are responsible for assessing and meeting the social care needs of adult prisoners while they are in custody. For this purpose, people in prisons are in effect deemed ordinarily resident in the local authority in which the prison is located.

National Resources

Ministry of Justice: Prison finder and prison map  

Youth Justice Board: Appropriate adults: guide for youth justice professionals

Legislation: Care Act 2014 s.76

Legislation: Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 s. 185

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A person who is detained in a custody suite, or is asked to attend voluntarily, may be ordinarily resident in a different local authority area, or police force area. This can generate confusion in relation to AA provision, either around where the police should source the AA or who should ultimately pay for that provision.

Scheme developers / commissioners are advised to be explicit about how this will be dealt with.

In relation to children, the Youth Justice Board states, “Each YOT has a legal duty to provide appropriate adults for all those who need them within the geographical area they cover. This is irrespective of the specific location or the home area of the child”.

National Resources

Youth Justice Board: Appropriate adults: guide for youth justice professionals 

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Equality and diversity

The nature of local communities served by AA schemes will naturally vary between police forces, local authorities and custody suites. Personal and cultural needs and experiences of policing will vary. AA schemes will need to comply with the Equality Act 2010 and well as specific requirements in PACE. Under the Equality Act, all public sector bodies are under a proactive equality duty.

Data should be gathered from local partners inform the assessment of demand in relation related to equality, diversity and individual needs. This will help to shape not only the choice of model and service specification but also partnership expectations. 

Nationally, the majority of people arrested by police are male. Accoridng to Ministry of Justice figures, while women make up around 19% of people arrested, they make up 30% of the people with a mental health need identified by liaison and diversion services in police custody and 27% of the incidents of self-harm in police custody

For a strip searches, PACE requires that the AA is of the same sex as a child or vulnerable adult unless that AA is a person who has been specifically requested by a child (i.e. someone known to them (PACE Code C Annex A 5, 11(b); Annex E 12). This represents a significant challenge for police and AA schemes. 

National resources

on Friday December 08 by chrisbath
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Nationally, the majority of people arrested by police are white. However, most BME communities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, mental health care and learning disability inpatient care (ONS, 2011; Ministry of Justice, 2011, Centre for Mental Health, 2014). People from African-Caribbean backgrounds are three times more likely to be arrested per 1,000 population than a white person.

However, they do not necessarily have a higher prevalence of mental ill health or learning disabilities (Nazroo and King, 2002).

HMIC (2015) found that many of those in a Black Mental Health UK focus group said that appropriate adults were often not called in respect of vulnerable black people. Examples were given of appropriate adults being turned away by the police when they offered to act for a detainee.

For some, cultural factors can also reduce access to services such as the fear of stigma, the imperative to ‘save face’, maintain social status and moral reputation (Centre for Mental Health, 2014).

"The Commission identified the following characteristics of services that appeared to work well with people from BME communities with mental health problems and in contact with criminal justice:

  • Cultural competence
  • Offered person centred intervention
  • Holistic engagement
  • Provided mentoring and service user involvement
  • Worked in partnership with the communities clients come from."

Bradley Commission: The Bradley Report five years on

National resources

on Friday December 08 by chrisbath
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The Equality Act 2010 section 6 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

People with intellectual disabilities or mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

The Equality Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made to standard provisions, criteria, practices or physical features to avoid disadvantage. Reasonable steps must be taken to provide any ‘auxiliary aid’ without which a disabled person would be disadvantaged.


Both PACE and the Equality Act cover both adults and children. Children who come into contact wiht poilce as suspects often face a number of areas of disadvantage in their life, including neurodevelopmental disorders and disability. 

hughes table

on Friday December 08 by chrisbath
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Department for Education and Skills figures (2015) record that children who are looked after by local authority children’s social care services are five times more likely to be cautioned or convicted than their peers.

"While many of the factors which result in children being taken into care are also linked to offending, it is likely that the way care homes and the police respond to minor offending by this group contributes to their over-representation". 
Charlie Taylor, Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales (2016)
on Friday December 08 by chrisbath
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