In her speech to the Police and Mental Health Summit 2014, Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May MP said:
"There is evidence to suggest that there are not enough Appropriate Adults to support vulnerable people who are in police custody. Appropriate Adults provide vital support and help to de-mystify what can be an intimidating and threatening experience. It is right that all vulnerable people can access this invaluable service. So the Home Office will commission the National Appropriate Adult Network to examine this situation and help us determine where the problems lie, and what can be done to ensure that that all vulnerable adults in police custody are able to receive the support they need from Appropriate Adults".
NAAN was commissioned by the Home Secretary in January 2015 and selected the Institute for Criminal Policy Research as academic research partners.
This is the first report in the There to Help research series.
- There to Help (88 pages)
- Executive summary (2 pages)
Rt Hon Theresa May MP
"The status quo is clearly not acceptable and I was concerned to read that a number of mentally vulnerable adults, who clearly meet the current eligibility criteria in PACE Code of Practice C, do not receive the support of an appropriate adult...the priority must be to act to ensure that vulnerable people are provided with the support they are entitled to".
Lord Bradley PC
"The police work in a difficult environment with incredible time pressures. Trained appropriate adults must be quickly available wherever they are needed. Along with liaison and diversion, and street triage, they are critical part of a coherent approach to vulnerabilities which both saves money and delivers better outcomes."
Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset and chair of the Independent Custody Visitors Association
"We are clearly not getting it right for the more vulnerable members of our communities who need that extra protection and support. When a vulnerable person comes into contact with the police, their needs deserve to be properly identified, with a needs assessment made, and for them to then be dealt with quickly and fairly. For this to happen, every area needs an organised, trained appropriate adult scheme which is totally independent of the police.”
Avtar Bhatoa, Chair of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee
"To ensure fair justice for all, mentally vulnerable people need the help of an appropriate adult during what can be a daunting and confusing time. With the right support, mentally vulnerable people are less likely to suffer an injustice or to waive their right to free legal advice through fear and misunderstanding, which can compound their disadvantage in the justice system. It is vital that the recommendations in this important report are implemented."
Gísli Guðjónsson CBE FBPsS, Professor of Forensic Psychology (whose expert testimony saw the convictions of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four overturned)
“Mentally vulnerable people are at increased risk of providing information which is inaccurate, unreliable or misleading. “The involvement of an appropriate adult to facilitate communication, ensure they understand their rights and are treated fairly, is absolutely critical to a fair process”.
James Bullion, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
“Helping to support and safeguard our most vulnerable citizens, whether they are victims or suspects, is central to the role of adult social care services. Many local authorities have a long history of providing social workers or funding dedicated AA schemes. ADASS supports the report’s recommendations and is keen to work with central Government and local partners to ensure sustainable services are available for all.”