I have been volunteering as an Appropriate Adult for a couple of years now. It has given me an insight into the way criminal justice works, at least at the point of someone being interviewed by the police. I have been to support many vulnerable people, some of whom are at very low points in their life.
There is a rota which is created each month, in which I predict when I will be available for call-out. Everyone acknowledges that plans change, and sometimes I just can’t do a call-out; it’s important not to feel guilty about that!
When I’m called by the coordinator, I’m given the person’s name and date of birth, their alleged offence, and why they need an appropriate adult. I also get an expected time for the interview to take place. We always recommend that the person sees a solicitor before the interview. Sometimes I can go straight to interview (after introducing myself), sometimes there is a bit of hanging about. You need to be prepared for waiting sometimes; it’s part of the job.
The interviews are varied, from short to long, from easy to fraught. There’s also a variety of people and a variety of alleged offences – you never know.
Why do I do it? I think it’s so important that all people are treated fairly and with respect by the police. I have intervened in an interview, though that is quite rare. Sometimes just having someone friendly can be a great help to someone in a bad situation. I think that just being there can help to ensure that a person is treated properly.
Find out more our Appropriate Adult Advocacy.