Role of an Appropriate Adult
The role of the Appropriate Adult is to facilitate communication during police interviews and procedures where the person (aged 16 years & over).being interviewed may have difficulty with communication or understanding. The use of Appropriate Adults is extended to all categories of interview, i.e. victim, witness, suspect or accused
An Appropriate Adult is a person with prior experience (either in a professional or voluntary capacity) of working with adults who have a mental health problem, learning disability, autistic spectrum disorder, dementia and/or acquired brain injury.
The Appropriate Adult will have been specifically recruited for their experience in relation to dealing with communication issues with people from at least one of the above client groups. They will also have been successful in completing nationally recognised training, providing them with the appropriate knowledge required to undertake the Appropriate Adult role and function.
The Appropriate Adult is always independent of Police Officers involved in any interview and, as such cannot be a Police Officer or an employee of the Police Force.
It is anticipated that given the background experience of an Appropriate Adult they would have the communication skills and tools necessary to assist a person with communication issues to understand more fully what is being said/asked of them. Further to this it is anticipated that they would lend their experience to the police officers conducting the interview; this may be regarding understanding but could also include opinion about the anxiety levels an interviewee is experiencing and how these may be impacting on the quality of their answers and level of understanding.
An Appropriate Adult is therefore allowed to intercede for the purposes of checking understanding and conferring with the interviewee or police officers about their understanding.
The presence of the Appropriate Adult is about trying to ensure equality for the person being interviewed. It is not about advocacy or speaking on behalf of a person, rather it is about an independent third party checking that effective communication is taking place and that the person being interviewed is not disadvantaged in any way due to their mental disorder.