July 2020

  • NAAN submitted a response the Home Office's public consultation on the revision of PACE codes C (detention) and E (audio recording of suspect interviews) in response to coronavirus. In particular this related to the risks of allowing remote legal advice and representation.

April 2020

  • Work began on There to Help 3 (2020) report, based on data from police forces and L&D. 

December 2019

  • NAAN submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to all police territorial police forces in England and Wales, plus British Transport Police, Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Department for Work and Pensions. The requests asked for data on the recorded need for AAs in the year to March 2019, in custody and voluntary interviews.
  • NAAN requested data from NHS England Liaison and Diversion National Programme Team on the extent to which police had used the AA safeguard amongst L&D clients in the year to March 2019.

June 2019

  • Addressing the NHS England event The Bradley Report 10 Years On – a review of progress and next steps, Lord Bradley, author of the seminal Bradley Report (2009) which highlighted the importance of identification and effective AAs, said "We have to get statutory provision of appropriate adults for vulnerable adults".
  • In ten years time (2019), a report by Revolving Doors Agency and Centre for Mental Health (Co-Chairs of the Bradley Report Group) referenced both There to Help (2015) and There to Help 2 (2019). The report marked 10 years since the Bradley Report and set out a roadmap for the next decade in terms of improving outcomes for people with mental ill-health, learning disability, developmental disorders or neuro-diverse conditions in the criminal justice system.
  • There to Help 2 (2019) was highlighted in the ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) bulletin and circulated to the ADASS Care and Justice Network

May 2019

February 2019

  • The Home Office sent a survey to all Police and Crime Commissioners, with a letter from the Policing Minister, asking them about the partnership agreement published in July 2018, whether it has been implemented and what has changed. This will be used to evaluate the impact of this voluntary approach and inform decisions about future steps.
  • Criminal Law Review published a paper on the July 2018 changes to the PACE definition of vulnerability by Dr Roxanna Dehaghani and Chris Bath [This material was first published by Thomson Reuters, trading as Sweet & Maxwell, 5 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AQ, in Criminal Law Review as Vulnerability and the Appropriate Adult Safeguard: Examining the Definitional and Threshold Changes within PACE Code C Issue 3 and is reproduced by agreement with the publishers].
  • Chris Bath and five leading academics wrote to the Chair of the NPCC working group on risk assessment. The letter proposed that existing plans for a new national tool be extended to include not just physical / healthcare risks but also criminal justice risks arising out of mental vulnerability.     

November 2018

  • The Scottish Government published an analysis of responses to its public consultation on establishing a statutory appropriate adult service.

August 2018

July 2018

  • NAAN submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to all territorial police forces and British Transport Police. The requests seek find out whether the percentage of adults identified as needing an AA has changed since There to Help. Data was also requested from NHS England's liaison and diversion programme and NAAN members. This will be analysed and inform a new report providing an update on changes since There to Help (2015).
  • The Association of PCCs released a statement welcoming the national focus and setting out proposed next steps, including a statutory duty on local authorities. 
  • Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP wrote to all PCCs and directors of adult social care to highlight the new partnership agreement.
  • The Home Office published a partnership agreement setting out a framework for PCC and local authorities to work together locally to solve the lack of provision of AAs for adults. The Home Office committed to reviewing the effectiveness of the agreement after 6 months and 12 months. 
  • The Home Office published significant revisions to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice (PACE Codes) including redefining which adults an AA is required for and requiring police to make 'reasonable enquiries' as to what information is available about a person's potential vulnerability.
  • NAAN published a guide to the revisions to the PACE Code, to assist appropriate adult schemes and police to implement the changes. 

June 2018

January 2018

October 2017

September 2017

  • Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP wrote to all Police and Crime Commissioners, asking for support for a voluntary partnership approach with AA provision/commissioning led by local authorities and supported by PCCs
  • Luciana Berger MP (Labour) asked in a written question whether the Home Secretary make statutory provision of appropriate adults for vulnerable adult detainees. Policing Minister Nick Hurd highlighted the There to Help report and the Home Office working group but replied that, "There are currently no plans to introduce a specific statutory requirement concerning provision".

February 2017

  • The Home Office working group met for the fourth time. The meeting focused on: (a) finalising proposed changes to PACE Code C; (b) an analysis of the costs of statutory provision undertaken by a Home Office economist; (c) draft commissioning guidance and (d) linking projects related to improving identification.
  • NAAN held a meeting to develop links between separate work currently being undertaken by the Home Office, National Police Chief's Council, College of Policing and NHS England Liaison and Diversion on improving the identification of vulnerability by police.
  • The Local Government Association (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board discussed an LGA Review of Appropriate Adult provision for vulnerable adults, developed in response to There to Help (2015). The paper set out seven future options for the provision of AAs for vulnerable adults and asked the Board to select one or develop a new one. The Board. The Board did not agree to support any of the seven future options included in the report and did not propose an alternative.

January 2017

November 2016

  • The Home Office's Crime and Policing Knowledge Hub's researcher reported back to the Home Office Police Integrity and Powers Unit. The report estimated the number of adults living in areas that do not have AA coverage and the additional costs for AA provision (in custody only). It concluded that the figures were "broadly comparable with the findings of the NAAN report". 

October 2016

  • The Home Office working group met for the third time, to discuss findings of further research by the Home Office and separately by the University of Bristol, potential changes to PACE and potential solutions to the issue of provision. The Home Office and NAAN agreed to collaborate on commissioning guidance for AA schemes for adults.

May 2016

  • NAAN gave verbal evidence to Dame Elish Angiolini and made a written submission to the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody. 

April 2016

  • The Home Office working group met for the second time. Officials later concluded that further research is required and will seek additional resources to set up an additional research project to be delivered by the Home Office's Crime and Policing Knowledge Hub. This will involve officials visiting a range of appropriate adult schemes with different models of delivery and commissioning, discussing issues with providers, commissioners and police.

January 2016

December 2015

August 2015

  • There to Help, the report of the Home Secretary's commission has been published and is available to download. Theresa May MP ordered the establishment of a Home Office working group (reporting to the PACE Strategy Board) to consider our report's findings and recommendations.

July 2015

March 2015

  • NAAN has submitted its report, There to Help, to Home Secretary Theresa May.

January 2015

  • NAAN has now been formally commissioned by the Home Office to undertake a research project in relation to AAs for mentally vulnerable adults. We have asked the Institute of Criminal Policy Research to work in partnership with us on the project. 

October 2014

  • NAAN 10th Anniversary event at the House of Lords. Lord Bradley, Chris Bath and Superintendent Alan Greene (representing the national policing lead for custody) repeat the call for a statutory duty to provide AAs for vulnerable adults.
  • The Home Secretary announced that she will commission NAAN to consider the problems and solutions to ensure vulnerable adults receive the support they need from AAs. The Home Secretary recognised that The Home Secretary noted that, "There is evidence to suggest that there are not enough Appropriate Adults to support vulnerable people who are in police custody...It is right that all vulnerable people can access this invaluable service.”

August 2014

  • The Avon & Somerset PCC, Sue Mountstevens, supports NAAN's call for a clear statutory position on provision for vulnerable adults. In the meantime, Ms Mountstevens has secured Appropriate Adult scheme coverage in the south of the force area and is currently in negotiations regarding the north area. The PCC will take on majority of funding responsibility for Appropriate Adults for vulnerable adults across the Avon and Somerset Police area from April 2015. The PCC supports NAAN's call for a clear statutory position on provision for vulnerable adults. 

July 2014

May 2014

  • The Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Alan Charles, has promised one-off funding to Derbyshire Appropriate Adult Service, a member of NAAN, to support continued provision of AA services. Mr Charles has published a strongly worded statement making clear that a long term solution is required.

May 2014

January 2014

  • NAAN publishes the position paper Who's looking out for the adults? setting out the problem and how the Government's development of Liaison & Diversion services provides an opportunity (and an imperative) for change.


There to Help (2015)

The resulting report There to Help (2015) found that in the year 2013/14:

  • Adults who are mentally vulnerable were significantly under-identified in police custody
  • There was a substantial lack of provision of appropriate adult provision for mentally vulnerable adults in many parts of England and Wales. 

The report made 10 recommendations. 

The report gained significant media attention and the Home Secretary promised action to ensure all vulnerable people got the support of an appropriate adult.  

2017 theretohelp button

There to Help 2 (2019)

In May 2019 NAAN published a further report, this time based on the year 2017/18. It found that since the original There to Help report :

  • Police identification of vulnerable suspects had improved but remained much lower than the actual rate of prevalence
  • Many adult suspects who were recorded as vulnerable by Liaision and Diversion services were not provided with an appropriate adult 
  • The availability of appropriate adult schemes had improved but significant gaps remained.

The report made 14 recommendations. 

2019 There to Help 2 thumbnail

There to Help 3 (2020)

Coming September 2020

All applications, outside of those from youth offending teams, have to be laid before NAAN's board of trustees. It is they who make the decision about whether to admit a new member. As part of this process NAAN will be in touch to organise a short phone call to check the information that you have provided and gather some background information. It also provides a chance for us to answer any questions that you may have. Applicants should be aware that we try to expedite applications. However depending on the time of year, it may take up to two weeks before the trustees come to a decision.

Please ensure you have read the Discover membership section, including the membership protocol, before completing this form.

All data is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. The National Appropriate Adult Network Limited will use the information recorded on this form to process your application for membership. We may use it to produce a register of members and to send you relevant information. We will not pass this information on to any other person(s) without your express consent. By completing this form you give consent to your contact details being made available to other NAAN members, subject to a sucessful application. By clicking "apply" below you agree to your data being used for this purpose.


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What was it about?

This was a Home Office consultation on proposed revisions to PACE codes C (detention) and E (audio recording of suspect interviews). 

The proposals were in response to coronavirus. During the peak of the pandemic, legal representative were very concerned about the serious risk to health of attending police custody. The CPS, NPCC and Law Society agreed a joint interim interview protocol whereby interviews would be allowed to take place without legal representatives coming to the police station. Instead, lawyers have been providing legal representation during interviews by 'live link' (e.g. Skype) or 'audio link' (i.e. telephone), including for children and vulnerable adults. 

NAAN secured changes to the intial joint interim interview protocol so that version 2 included the need for police to secure the consent of appropriate adults before remote legal advice was used. The arrangements did not apply to appropriate adults, who continued to attend the police station or voluntary interview throughout. 

The proposed changes to Code C and E would mean that remote legal representation in interviews would be formalised in PACE, including for children and mentally vulnerable adults, albeit with safeguards including: 

  • A requirement for police to undertake an assessment of a person's suitability for remote legal advice
  • A requirement for consent from the suspect, appropriate adult (if required) and parent (in the case of children)
  • The provisons would initially last for 12 months.

 Consultation webpage (Gov.uk) - Closed 3rd July 2020.

What was NAAN's response?

NAAN's full response is available to download here. For a summary of NAAN's concerns and proposals, see below.  

What were NAAN's concerns? 

 While NAAN recognised the serious health risks posed by coronavirus, especially in custody where social distancing is not always possible, there were a number of concerns:

  1. The strategic focus should be on doing whatever is necessary to ensure police custody is safe for all. Failure to meet health and safety responsibilities to officers, lawyers and appropriate adults does not justify measures which disadvantage suspects by modifying their right to legal advice. 
  2. The use of remote legal advice for children and vulnerable adults presents a risk to the integrity of the justice system
  3. Amending the PACE Codes will normalise remote legal advice, thereby increasing the risk that measures are adopted in the long term
  4. While the amendments are intended to support the continued use of the joint interview protocol, they  can be used in isolation from the wider context of that protocol
  5. Under the joint interview protocol the safeguards (i.e. consent) are not being fully implemented and appear to have become a default route
  6. Police are not trained to deliver assessments of suitability for interviews involving remote legal advice
  7. People who have an untrained familial appropriate adult are likely to be at increased risk due to the reliance on AAs to ensure police conduct effective assessments of suitability for remote legal advice and to withhold consent appropriately
  8. Even for trained appropriate adults from organised schemes, this places significant extra responsibilities on their shoulders - and there is still no statutory provision of AAs for vulnerable adults
  9. While professionals increasingly report being content with the operation of arrangements, there is no mechanism for evaluating how clients/suspects are impacted or feel about it 
  10. The 12-month fixed period for operation of the temporary arrangements does not reflect the dynamic nature of the risk If revisions will be made without Parliamentary approval, the need for regular review is even greater.

What were NAAN's proposals?

NAAN's main proposals focused on excluding children and vulnerable adults from remote arrangements, due to the risks to justice.

  1. Shift the strategic focus from modifying suspect rights to doing whatever is necessary to achieve safe custody suites for all (e.g. by introducing checks/accountability, assigning/adapting additional rooms)
  2. Consider the availability of evidence concerning the potential impact on children and vulnerable adults
  3. Exclude any suspect for whom an AA is required from the provisions allowing remote legal advice during interview
  4. Amend Code C to explicitly state that children and vulnerable adults have a right to free legal advice in person
  5. Publish an amended joint interview protocol reflecting the above.

However, recognising that this outcome was far from certain given the level of support the protocol has from influential institutions, NAAN also provided proposals to mitigate the negative impact as much as possible for children and vulnerable adults. This included:

  • Only allowing the use of remote legal advice in interviews with children and vulnerable persons in extremis, within tightly prescribed circumstances, where social distancing is not possible and appropriate PPE is unavailable, and only where video is available
  • Excluding children and adults from audio-only (telephone) legal representation in interviews
  • Strengthening the assessment of suitability process
  • Strengthening the consent safeguards by changing the information to be given to suspects, emphasising their rights rather than efficient process; ensuring that both suspects and AAs are fully informed; making it explicit that consent can be withdrawn by either at any time; ensuring the question of remote legal advice is dealt with at the earliest possible stage by all parties; and clarifying the suspect’s options if their lawyer will not attend
  • Explicitly maintaining the link with the wider requirements of a (revised) protocol
  • Defining a clear level of risk that triggers/removes the availability of these temporary, emergency arrangements; explicitly linking the operation of the temporary arrangements to the context from which its purpose derives (e.g. legal pandemic status, health data) rather than a blanket 12 months
  • Including a formal review mechanism, with a period no shorter than 2 months between reviews, which includes relevant external stakeholders, including a role for the PACE Strategy Board to which NHS/PHE representatives should be invited.

NAAN's full response is available to download here.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone – and this certainly includes children and vulnerable adult suspects, and the work of appropriate adults. This page provides information about developments, our activities and sources of information. It is divided into the following sections:

What NAAN has been doing

The National Appropriate Adult Network has set aside it’s agreed work plans to focus on a response. This includes three interlinked areas of activity:

  • Listening to our members
  • Providing guidance
  • Representing AAs in national forums


Sadly, we have had to cancel our national professional development days for March (Cardiff) and June (Liverpool). However, we are continuing to engage with our members via:

  • Online surveys
  • Online national meetings
  • Online forum
  • Member advice service (phone and email)


We have developed a detailed coronavirus section in the guidance for coordinators section of the website. This includes information on:

  • Working with stakeholders
  • Managing demand
  • Managing availability of AAs
  • Health and safety
  • Physical presence vs remote support

This platform has also allowed us to share with our members the following coronavirus guidance produced by other organisations:

We have also been providing regular e-updates direct to our member schemes via email (a total of 15 in the month from 17th March) .  


Coronavirus has shown us all how interlinked we are. It is now clear how critical each part of the justice system is to each other and the whole.

Since the pandemic began, we have been extremely glad of the network of contacts we’ve built up over the last few years. In fact, this network has developed even further. This has made NAAN well placed to ensure that AA work, and the children and vulnerable adults they support, are included in national responses.

Our representation work has included:

  • Twice weekly engagement with organisations critical to police custody, via a Home Office chaired operational partners group
  • Providing advice to the Crown Prosecution Service on amendments to the joint interview protocol, ensuring the needs for children and vulnerable adults to have an AA physically present are recognised
  • Direct engagement with other organisations including various police forces, Youth Justice Board, Association of YOT Managers, Youth Justice Legal Centre and the Standing Committee on Youth Justice.

What’s been happening

Demand for AAs

Demand for AA services in most areas has now reduced significantly. This reflects national police guidance around the necessity of arrests and detention and a general downturn in crime. However, our some of our member report that in their areas have not seen meaningful reductions and this is a matter of concern.

Availability of AAs

Many schemes have suffered dramatic reductions in the availability of their AAs. Volunteers make up a huge percentage of the AA workforce. Many of these people are older and a more likely to have underlying health conditions. As a result, many have had to self-isolate or shield.

In response, some YOTs (who are under a statutory duty to ensure provision for children) have turned to their staff to maintain a service. Provision for adults, as always, more difficult due to the lack of statutory provision.

However, we are pleased to say that AA schemes remain operational at this time. This is due to the dedication of coordinators, staff and the many volunteers that continue to attend despite the risks to them and their families.  

Physical attendance by AAs

AAs continue to attend custody to support children and vulnerable adults.

This is a local decision but NAAN's position is that appropriate adults should continue to attend custody, subject to three requirements:

  • Detentions/procedures are necessary (cannot be delayed or avoided) 
  • Appropriate PPE is provided to AAs by police whenever it is needed
  • The custody environment is being run in a safe manner 

If any of the three requirements are not met, the AAs should decline to attend or remove themselves from custody. 

NAAN's rationale for this position is as follows:

  • Our analysis of the PACE Codes makes it clear that core detention and interview related procedures cannot take place without an AA present and remain compliant with PACE
  • Given the nature of the children and vulnerable adults being supported, and the requirements of the AA role, physical presence is critical to achieving the outcomes of the role
  • At this time, when legal advice and interview support is commonly being provided remotely, the physical presence of the AA is even more important in safeguarding rights and interests.
  • The police have a legal duty to take reasonable measures to ensure, so far is as reasonably practicable, that custody suites are safe and without risks to the health of AAs. 
  • The three requirements reflect national guidance to police forces by the NPCC
  • AA schemes have a legal duty to adopt policies which protect their AAs where police have not taken reasonable measures

While there were some early issues, it appears that in most areas the three requirements are now typically being met. NAAN will continue to monitor the situation and provide local support.

Changes in provision of legal advice

A joint interim protocol on interviews has been agreed by the CPS, NPCC, Law Society, CLSA, and LCCSA. This advocates the delivery of remote legal advice and interview support by legal representatives.

While this is not explicitly supported by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or its Codes of Practice, it is also not forbidden. All parties have said that this is a temporary measure in extremis to cope with this unprecedented public health crisis.

NAAN raised with the CPS that the protocol does not currently mention children, vulnerable adults or AAs. This has led to some misunderstandings whereby AAs have been invited to take part in interviews remotely. However, PACE has not been amended and it continues to be the case that an AA must be physically present for an interview of a child or vulnerable adult.

NAAN has contributed to a revised version of the protocol, which will clarify safeguards for vulnerable suspects, including the need for the physical presence of an AA. 

Virtual remand hearings

The use of virtual remand hearings (where people remain at the police station and are dealt with via video link, rather than attending court) is expanding.

We understand this process is being used with children and vulnerable adults. This raises questions about risks to fairness and effective participation.

AAs do not have a role in virtual courts. At this point the person has ceased to be a suspect held under PACE and has become a defendant. However, a number of NAAN members report being asked by police to provide support to children and vulnerable adults.

This role is outside that of an AA and has not been defined. If attending physical court, a child would have the support of a YOT court support officer, as well as access to other services. We are aware that some YOTs are providing officers to support children for virtual remand hearings – and this is to be encouraged. The question of support for vulnerable adults remains open.

NAAN has raised the issue with the Ministry of Justice, which is considering the matter.


For further information:

  • AA scheme coordinators should see our guidance for coordinators (requires organisational membership and login)
  • Scheme AAs should contact their local coordinator, however, you can refer to iKAAN, our resource for AAs (if your scheme is a NAAN member you can register for free)
  • Police should see our information for police 
  • Family members should refer to the information on this page. This provides general guidance on the AA role, and details about what the police cannot do without an AA physically present. If you have any queries about the impact of corononavirus on health and safety, please ask the police custody suite that has asked you to attend. Police are expected to provide you with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).   


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