The Appropriate Adult role was created with the introduction of PACE 1984 and its associated codes of practice. The Act sets out the powers and duties of police, including in relation to people in police detention.
Section 63B(10)(a) defines who may act as an Appropriate Adult. If a parent, guardian, representative of the organisation responsible for their care or a local authority social worker is unavailable, any responsible person aged 18 or over may fulfil the role, with the exception of police employees. This section of the Act actually only applies to Testing for presence of Class A drugs. However, within Code C the definition is applied generally.
Section 66(1)(b) requires the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice in connection with the detention, treatment, questioning and identification of persons by police officers. These are known as the PACE Codes.
Section 67 requires codes of practice, and revisions to them, to be made by statutory instrument. It provides that breaches of the codes are neither a criminal nor civil offence but are admissible in evidence and shall be taken into account by courts and tribunals.
- Section 76 requires courts to exclude from evidence a confession that was made in consequence of anything said or done likely to make it unreliable, unless the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was not. An example is the omission of an AA when one was required under PACE.
- Section 77 states that if a court case depends wholly or substantially on a confession by a person who is "in a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning" and that confession was not made in the presence of an independent person (not include a police officer or a person employed for, or engaged on, police purposes) the court shall treat the case as one in which there is a special need for caution before convicting.
- Section 78 (Exclusion of unfair evidence) enables courts to refuse evidence that was obtained in circumstances that mean it would have such an adverse effect on fairness that they ought not to admit. Courts have excluded evidence and quashed convictions under this section due to the absence of an AA
- Section 38(6) states that whenever a juvenile (a child aged 10-17) is detained after charge, the custody officer must arrange for them to be transferred to local authority accommodation. The only exceptions are that: it is 'impracticable' to do so (e.g. floods or blizzards) or (in the case of a juvenile of at least 12 years) there is no secure accommodation is available and other accommodation would not be adequate to protect the public from serious harm. A reciprocal duty is placed on local authorities by the Childrens Act 1989 section 21(2)(b).
- Section 37(15) states that an “arrested juvenile” means a person arrested with or without a warrant who appears to be under the age of 18. Until this was amended by section 42 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, 17 year olds were not treated in the same way as other children under the law.
PACE Codes of Practice
Detailed information on the role, responsibilities and powers of an Appropriate Adult is provided throughout various sections of the following PACE Codes: -
- Code C sets out the requirements for the detention, treatment and questioning of suspects not related to terrorism.
- Code D governs the exercise by police of statutory powers to identify people, including fingerprinting and ID parades.
- Code E governs audio recording interviews with suspects
- Code F covers visual recording with sound of interviews with suspects
- Code H mirrors much of Code C, but includes special requirements for suspected terrorists
Download this Code of Practice
- Section 4.1.4 requires that, where the young person is aged 16 years or under, the explanation and warning must be given in the presence of an appropriate adult.
- Section 16.1 requires that the explanation of the effect of the youth conditional caution must be given in the presence of an appropriate adult if the young person is aged 16 or under or if they are aged 17 and there is reason to doubt the capacity or ability of the young person to fully understand the nature and requirements of a youth conditional caution.
- Section 16.3 highlights that those under 18 are not adults. Particular care is required and time must be taken to ensure understanding. Explanations must be given in a language that the individual can understand. PACE Code C requirements in relation to mentally vulnerable individuals and non-English speakers must be borne in mind.
Section 38 places a duty on local authorities, via their YOTs, to ensure the provision of persons to act as Appropriate Adults to safeguard the interests of children and young persons detained or questioned by police officers.
Section 39 places a duty on YOTs to co-ordinate the provision of youth justice services for all those in the authority’s area who need them.
Section 66ZA (as amended by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) requires that a youth caution must be carried out in the presence of an Appropriate Adult. The police must also explain, in ordinary language and to both the child and the Appropriate Adult, the effects of section 66ZB (Effect of youth cautions) subsections (1) to (3) and (5) to (7), as well as any guidance published under subsection (4). Note: There is no requirement for consent.
Section 66B states that an Appropriate Adult must be present when the police explain the effect of the youth conditional caution to the child and warn them that failure to comply with any of the conditions attached to the caution may result in them being prosecuted for the offence. Notes: The child's consent is required for a conditional caution.
Section 17 requires local authorities to have due regard to the need to, and do all it can to, prevent crime and disorder, re-offending and the misuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances. All policies, strategies, plans and budgets must therefore be considered with the potential contribution to the above.
Sections 5 to 7 form the basis for Community Safety Partnerships, including local authorities, police and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) as statutory partners, require the implementation of joint strategies as per section 17 and provide reports to the Secretary of State.
Section 1 of the Act created the role of the police and crime commissioner and detailed its main statutory responsibilities. In London and Greater Manchester, this role is held by the Mayor's office.
Each police and crime commissioner must:-
- secure that the police force for their area is maintained and is efficient and effective; and
- hold the chief constable to account for the exercise of their functions and those of all persons under their direction and control.
In particular, they must hold the chief constable to account for:
- having regard to police and crime plan;
- having regard to strategic policing requirement);
- having regard to codes of practice issued by Secretary of State;
- their arrangements for co-operating with other persons in the exercise of their functions;
- their arrangements for engagement with local people;
- securing value for money;
- the exercise of duties relating to equality and diversity that are imposed on the chief constable by any enactment;
- the exercise of duties in relation to the safeguarding of children and the promotion of child welfare.
Section 10 (Co-operative working) creates additional duties on police and crime commissioners. In exercising their functions, they must:
- have regard to the relevant priorities of the local authority, chief constable, probation, and any clinical commissioning group whose area is in whole or in part in the police force area
- act in co-operation with responsible authorities in the development and implementation of crime and disorder strategies
- along with the chief constable, CPS, Lord Chancellor, Prisons Minister, YOTs and probation, make arrangements so far as it is appropriate to do so for the exercise of functions so as to provide an efficient and effective criminal justice system for the area.
More information on the role of the police and crime commissioner is available from the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners website and the Home Office (gov.uk) website.