Appropriate Adult

Dorset Advocacy’s Appropriate Adult Service recruits, trains and supports independent volunteers to safeguard the interests of vulnerable adults being questioned in police custody.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) created the role of Appropriate Adult to ensure that adults who have learning disabilities or mental health problems who are questioned in police custody:

  • have support, particularly while they are being questioned
  • are treated properly, fairly and respectfully by the police
  • can communicate effectively with the police
  • understand their rights.

It is a requirement that a person who is assessed as vulnerable should have an appropriate adult to support them. Appropriate adults can be friends or family members. But often there is no one who can be called upon – and this is where Dorset Advocacy’s scheme fills the gap.

Where does this project operate?

The scheme operates from 8am to 10pm, seven days per week. Two volunteer Appropriate Adults plus a Dorset Advocacy manager cover each shift; shifts run from 8am to 2pm and from 2pm to 10pm.

The scheme covers both custody centres in Dorset – at Bournemouth and Weymouth. Volunteers receive full training for their role, ongoing support and supervision, plus travel and out of pocket expenses.