Existing local and national government strategies and structures recognise the interrelationships between social care, health, policing and justice and encourage integration and partnerships as part of a whole systems approach. There is broad support amongst strategic stakeholders and AA schemes for a whole systems approach to appropriate adult provision, recognising outcomes delivered as a shared benefit across local authorities (YOTs/social services), health and policing.  In some areas, this is already the case. 

Organised AA provision for children is usually funded almost entirely by the local youth offending team (YOT). This is because the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 specifies AA provision as one of the youth justice services which a local authority has a statutory duty to provide. 

Depending on the local model, this could be achieved by tasking YOT officers to act as AAs as part of their core role, establishing a volunteer co-ordinator post or funding an external agency. 

In some areas, YOTs within the same police force area co-fund a single scheme. Budget contributions are typically based on police data on the relative number of cases from each YOT area. 

YOTs should provide sufficient funding to ensure provision meets the requirements of their statutory duty, YJB guidance and the National Standards for Youth Justice

However, there is no barrier to other local partners providing additional funding in support of the service. For example:

  • A police and crime commissioner may wish to increase the quality or availability of AAs
  • An integrated health and social care team may recognise the high level of mental health and neurodisabilty amongst children in police custody. 



on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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The lack of an explicit statutory duty to ensure provision of AAs for adults (in contrast to AA provision for children) has resulted in a wide variety of local approaches - both in terms of funding sources and levels of investment. 

Some areas have retained a reliance on social workers to act as AAs. As this is not a dedicated budget line, it is not known how much local authorities are spending on such direct delivery. However, given the estimated costs of social worker time, even a small amount of provision will generate significant (albeit potentially invisible) costs.

Local authority funding for non-statutory services is at significant risk due to overall pressure on budgets. However, research from 2015 indicates that they remain both the most common funder and greatest contributor to dedicated adult AA schemes. Local authorities were found to provide over half of all identifed funding (in addition to unknown spending on social workers).

Chart: Number of services receiving funds from each source [n=23] (There to Help, 2015)

funding source


Chart: Number of services receiving funds from each source [n=23] (There to Help, 2015)

funding percent


Pressure on local authority budgets has, in some areas, led to police taking emergency measures. Direct police contracts and spot-purchasing was significant in 2015 (21.3%). This funding approach is extremely risky for both suspects and police given the legal requirement in PACE that the person acting as AA:

  • must be independent of the police; and 
  • may not be under the control or direction of the chief of police
  • may not be under contractual arrangements with the chief of police. 

PCC funding (2.6%) was similar to historic contributions made by Police Authority funding. However this is likely to  have increased slightly in the two years to 2017 as awareness of the AA provision issue has increased. 

on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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There is currently no central government funding available specifically for AA provision for adults. 

The Home Office has developed a voluntary partnership agreement aimed primarily at directors of adult social care and police and crime commissioners. It does not have additional funding attached or to specify local funding arrangements. This will be evaluated after 6 months and 12 months. 

If the Home Office then decides to create a new statutory duty on local authorities, then under the new burdens doctrine it must provide the associated funding from its own budget. 

on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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The role of appropriate adult is clearly closely aligned with social work and provides for clear independence from the police. 

Social workers were attending police interviews of adults with additional needs even before the advent of PACE. In fact, the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (1981) suggested, "consideration should be given to placing some obligation on local authorities to make provision for social workers to be always available out of ordinary working hours" for this purpose. 

During the first 10 years of PACE (1985  to 1995), social workers increasingly fulfilled it for adults. From that point, reports from the Home Office and the Audit Commission encouraged local authorities to instead develop volunteer schemes in order to increase availability and decrease costs. At the same time, academic papers also criticised the appropriateness and effectiveness of social workers in the role.  In some areas acting as an AA role continued to be a core part of the social worker's role. However, most areas began to recruit and manage volunteers co-ordinated by an employee or to fund external organisations.  

While 1998 brought a statutory duty on local authorities to ensure AA provision for children, no such explicit duty was ever created in relation to adults. In recent years, increasing budget pressures on local authorities have resulted in the closure of non-statutory services. 

There continue to be many reasons why local authority social care would wish to fund AA provision for adults. At the national level, AA provision contributes to key objectives of the Department for Communities and Local Government, including:-

  • supporting strong communities with excellent public services
  • encouraging integration of services and administration
  • supporting the vulnerable: improve outcomes for families with multiple problems
  • health and social care integration

At the local level, it contributes to

  • ensuring that adults with additional needs are treated fairly by the justice system with respect for their rights and entitlements and can participate effectively
  • supporting adults with care and support needs
  • fulfilling part of their wider adult safeguarding responsibilities 
  • troubled families agenda
  • concerns about demands on social worker and mental health professional's time
  • foster good working relationships with other agencies
  • implementing the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s.5-7 and 17
on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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After the suspect themselves, the lack of an organised AA scheme is perhaps felt most immediately by police force, including:

  • Compliance with PACE Codes, HMICFRS/P and IPCC/IOPC expectations
  • Reduced risk of inadmissible evidence, failed prosecutions, miscarriages of justice and associated financial and reputational costs
  • Reduced risk of self-harm and suicide after police contact
  • Increased efficiency; effectiveness and legitimacy of the police force

In simple terms, without an AA, they cannot progress cases involving adults who require one in a legally compliant manner. Searching for a person to act as AA can take an officer several hours - time that can be better spent when there is access to a reliable AA scheme.

This provides police forces with a strong incentive to contibute funding to an AA scheme. It is not contrary to legislation for police forces to provide funding for AA provision and it is not uncommon for them to do so, often to enhance an existing local authority commissioned service. For example, a force may wish to provide funds to allow an extension of operating hours for and adults AA service.

In some areas, pressures on local authority budgets have meant that non-statutory AA provision (i.e. services for adults) has been cut or is under threat. This has led some forces to consider directly commissioning their own AA services for adults. Such direct, unilateral police force commissioning of AAs would not appear to breach legislation. However, in considering a commissioning framework, local partners may wish to consider the following:

  1. The purpose of AAs and the consequent requirement for independence from police.
  2. The existing PACE Code prohibitions on who may act as an AA 
  3. The Home Office's planned 'partnership agreement' document, which sets out a vision of AA commissioning for adults being led by local authorities in partnership with police and crime commissioners, rather than with police forces 
  4. The Home Office's proposed PACE Code C Note 1F, which reads,  “An appropriate adult who is not a parent or guardian in the case of a juvenile, or a relative, guardian or carer in the case of a vulnerable adult, must be independent of the police as their role is to safeguard the rights and entitlements of a detained person”
  5. The ability under any arrangement of individual police officers being able to select indivdual providers or AAs
on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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Benefits of AA provision

A PCC's interest in AA provision is broadly the same as that of the police force. Access to a reliable AA scheme for adults means: 

  • Compliance with PACE Codes, HMICFRS/P and IPCC/IOPC expectations
  • Reduced risk of inadmissible evidence, failed prosecutions, miscarriages of justice and associated financial and reputational costs
  • Reduced risk of self-harm and suicide after police contact
  • Increased efficiency; effectiveness and legitimacy of the police force

This provides a strong incentive to ensur that AA provision is reliable and easily accessible to police officers when required. 

Statutory duties

The statutory responsibilities of a PCC are focused on the police force for their area. They do not specify the provision of AAs, which by legal definition must be independent of the police force. However, they:

  • control a significant budget for policing
  • are ultimately responsible for polcing effectiveness and efficiency (which are positively impacted by organised AA schemes)
  • have a role in developing and supporting local partnerships and co-operative working, which support integrated working 
  • act at force level, which may include numberous local authorities and clinical commissioning groups

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners states:

"The role of the PCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for the totality of policing.

PCCs aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area.

PCCs have been elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.

PCCs ensure community needs are met as effectively as possible, and are improving local relationships through building confidence and restoring trust. They work in partnership across a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime.

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
  • set the force budget and determine the precept;
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up."


Unlike health and social care services, PCCs are closely associated with police forces, both in a formal, legal sense and in terms of public perception. The implications of the requirement for an AA to be a person who is independent from police should be carefully considered in relation to PCCs. 

The specific PACE Code C requirements that the person acting as AA may not be under the control or direction of, or contractual arrangements with, the chief of police, do not apply to the PCC because they are not subordinate to the chief constable of their force. This means that PCCs are better placed than police forces to engage in AA funding and commissioning partnerships on behalf of policing. 

However, developers should also consider:-

  • The perceptions of the public;
  • The perceptons of service users and impact on their engagement with AAs;
  • The overall 'spirit' of PACE;
  • The views of individual PCCs.

The Home Office partnership agreement sets out a partnership approach between local authorities and PCCs. The Minister for Policing has expressed the view that AA, "Commissioning and provision across England and Wales is a local authority responsibility and this position should not be altered". At this time, the source of funding has not been specified by Government and this is therefore a matter for local area partners to decide.

Consideration should be given to appropriate governance structures to ensure AA schemes are legally, practically and perceptually independent of the police. This may include: 

  • PCCs retaining funds from their police force to the value which the force currently spends on AAs; and/or
  • PCCs passing over funds to the local authority to carry out a commissioning process.

When considering the issue of independence, control of funding and commissioning is of course a very important factor, though not the only one. Local authority led commissioning is preferred and avoids many concerns. However, it is possible for a local authority commissioned scheme to have issues with independence in practice. PCCs considering commissioning schemes unilaterally are advised to consider the risk of being at least perceived as lacking in independence and consider steps to mitigate that risk

Also see:

on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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In some parts of England, health partners contribute to AA provision for vulnerable adults. This includes contributions from:

  • Mental health trusts (both direct delivery and financial contributions)
  • Clinical commissioning groups (typically via integrated health and social care commissioning
  • NHS England regional funding 

Health is not formally included in the Home Office's voluntary partnership agreement document, which focuses on local authorities and PCCs. However, this in no way presents a barrier to health being included in a local funding partnership. Rationales for health contributions include: 

on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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Given the significant variation across local authority and police force areas, developers are strongly advised to identify and preserve existing funding.

Seek to map existing funding in the local area by: 

  • Identify NAAN-registered AA schemes operating in your area using the NAAN Network Map
  • Asking the police force which organisations are being used to provide AAs in each local authority area within the force area
  • Surveying police officers (at the custody suite level) to ask where they are getting AAs from (note that the answers may not always be the same as the official source)
  • Asking the local authority  (both YOT and social care) if they (a) are providing social workers to act as AAs, (b) employ staff to co-ordinate volunteer AAs, (c) fund an external service
  • Contacting identified AA schemes and request information about current funding (or contact details for their funders)

The goal is to preserve existing funding and work in partnership to enhance it where required. Be aware that taking a thorough and strategic approach can itself present risks to existing provision, particularly in relation to non-statutory provision. When mapping funding be aware that:

  • Some information may be considered commercially sensitive
  • Organisations may be funding services without explicit knowledge (e.g. where police officers are spot-purchasing their own AAs or where funding is historical and senior staff are not aware).
  • There may be overlaps in existing funding
on Friday December 15 by chrisbath
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