National Standards

2018 standards1

The national standards for the development and provision of appropriate adult schemes in England and Wales. Developed by the National Appropriate Adult Network and approved by:

2018 standards logos



The standards aim to support everyone who has a role in ensuring effective, organised appropriate adult (AA) provision. They provide clear benchmarks against which funders, commissioners, managers, coordinators, appropriate adults and monitors can assess current arrangements and develop plans.


The standards are approved by the Youth Justice Board, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. They were developed in consultation with the Home Office. Under the standards for children in the youth justice system (2019), set by the Secretary of State for Justice on the advice of the Youth Justice Board (YJB), the provision of appropriate adults must be in line with the NAAN National Standards. 


The national standards are developed and published by the charity The National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN) which is funded by its membership and via a grant from the Home Office. The 2018 revisions involved a wide consultation both within the NAAN membership and with other interested parties (e.g. people with lived experience, police, social care, youth justice, health, legal, academic).

This is the fourth version of the national standards which were first published in 2005. In this substantially revised version, the standards draw together various sources, including legislation, case law, codes of practice, research, inspectorate reports and operational guidance. The revised standards are based on five principles:

  1. Focused on outcomes
  2. Taking a 'whole systems' approach
  3. Evidence based
  4. Aiming for quality
  5. Relevant to the frontline
  6. Supporting accountability


There are six sections to the standards:

  1. Scheme development
  2. Recruitment and selection
  3. Initial training
  4. Managing, supporting and developing AAs
  5. Service provision
  6. Effective practice


Depending on your reasons for using the standards, different sections may be more relevant. For example:

  • Appropriate adult practitioners may wish to focus on section six
  • Strategic leaders may focus on section one
  • Operational scheme managers will likely find all sections relevant
  • Developers annd commissioners may wish to focus on sections one to five
  • Police may wish to focus on sections five and six.


Local provision, development or commissioning can be assessed against the standards.

All organisations that hold NAAN membership, whether they are providers or commissioners, have access to a National Standards Self Assessment Tool (NSSAT).

NSSAT provides a simple, standardised and effective way to assess, monitor and communicate the extent to which appropriate adult (AA) provision meets the standards. It includes all the standards and indicators and provides examples of the kind of evidence that might demonstrate that they are being met. It can be used not only as a one-off assessment tool but as a framework for regular assessment and continual development. Completing the NSSAT process helps you to work collaboratively to understand whether your AA arrangements are functioning effectively, identify areas for development and make continual improvements.


In order to support the national standards in relation to effective practice, NAAN provides access to OFQUAL accredited qualifications for appropriate adults