Become an appropriate adult


Where do I start?

Thank you for your interest in becoming an appropriate adult (AA).

The National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN) does not provide appropriate adults or recruit volunteers (find out more about our work). Instead, appropriate adult schemes are organised and funded locally. On this page we hope to encourage you to consider becoming an AA, answer some of your questions and help you to connect with local schemes.

What is it like?

“I find being an Appropriate Adult very interesting and rewarding and never come away from a shift without having learnt something, not only about the role at the police station but also about people - the detainees that I try to help, and the Police, as individuals and as a Force.” - Volunteer AA

“I joined the Appropriate Adult project because I wanted to do some volunteering and this seemed appealing and rewarding, while also being a support for vulnerable people. I have met some great people and learned a lot from the training.” Volunteer AA

What are the entry requirements?

Appropriate adults come from all walks of life, male and female, from university students to retired people. It is critical that AA schemes reflect the communities they serve and equality and diversity is critical to our National Standards.

There is no prior experience or qualification required for the appropriate adult role. Each scheme will have its own recruitment guidelines. You will need to be prepared to undertake an enhanced criminal record (DBS) check. However, a criminal record will not necessarily act as an automatic bar in any scheme operating under the NAAN National Standards.

"Our volunteers come from all walks of life to make up a highly skilled, committed and friendly team routinely giving their time and effort, often in stressful and complicated situations. Needless to say, without them the project would not run." AA Scheme Co-ordinator

Will I receive training?

If accepted as an appropriate adult, training will be provided by the scheme at their cost.You may have to wait until a new cycle of training commences before you can start. A minimum of 20 hours training is recommended by NAAN. As part of your training you should visit a custody suite, attend an interview to watch a trained AA in role and be shadowed by an experienced AA or trainer when you undertake your first callout. You can get an idea of what training will cover by looking at the NAAN National Standards (page 10).

Some schemes are beginning to offer an accreditated qualification to their appropriate adults. The local scheme co-ordinator will be able to advise you.

Will my expenses be reimbursed?

It is usual for schemes to pay a volunteer’s travel expenses on production of a valid receipt.

What rights do I have as a volunteer?

Many appropriate adults are volunteers. When you volunteer to do something, you don't work under a contract, so you don’t have the same rights as an employee or worker. Of course, you also don't have the same legal committments. Though there is no contract, schemes may provide a volunteer agreement that explains: - 
  • the supervision and support you will receive
  • the training you will get
  • your coverage under their insurance
  • the health and safety policy
  • the expenses policy
It may also set out what the scheme's expectations are of you. This agreement isn’t compulsory. It simply explains what you can expect from the organisation you’re volunteering and vice versa. It doesn’t form a contract between you and the organisation.

You can find out general information about volunteering from and NCVO.

How do I find an AA scheme?

The Network Map

Visit the Network Map. This will help you to identify which schemes are local to you and whether they use volunteers. Just click and zoom to find your area. Contact details are also provided via so you can email the scheme co-ordinator for your area directly.

The map only shows AA schemes that are registered with NAAN. Although that includes the majority,  other schemes exist and may advertise in local volunteer centres, job centres or the local press. 

Other Contacts

Youth offending teams (YOTs) are legally responsible for directly providing AAs for children or funding a local scheme to do so. If your area is not covered by our map, you may wish to contact your local YOT directly. The contact details for all YOTs are available here.

Sadly, nobody has a legal duty to provide AAs for mentally vulnerable adults. This is something we are encouraging government to change. However, at the moment it may be that there is no organised scheme in your area for adults.

Volunteering vs Paid Work

Not all appropriate adult schemes use volunteers so you may not find a scheme in the area in which you are searching. In some areas sessional workers are used as appropriate adults. In others the role is sometimes carried out as part of a wider job e.g. social worker or youth offending team worker.

Next steps: Visit the Network Map 

How much do AAs get paid?


Volunteers cannot be paid.  However, appropriate adults do not have to be volunteers. It is up to local areas to decide how their services will be delivered. If a local provider does not offer volunteering opportunities then they will be using paid AAs.


Many paid appropriate adults are social workers, youth offending team workers or other professionals who undertake the appropriate adult role as part of their wider job. The salary will be dependent on their wider skills and responsibilities.

Sessional work

Some schemes use a mix of their own staff and sessional workers. Others use only paid sessional workers. Where the AA service has been contracted out to a private provider, it is likely that sessional staff are being used. However, some charities also use sessional workers.

There are no national pay rates for appropriate adults. Posts may be advertised in local job centres, in the local press, on the organisation’s own website or on general employment websites such as Jobcentre Plus.





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