The inappropriate adult

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11 Citations (SciVal)


Appropriate adults are supposedly a safeguard for vulnerable detainees, whether they are children or adults. Their role is unclear. Custody officers are responsible for calling appropriate adults, but often fail to do so. They mistakenly pass responsibility to police surgeons, who confuse fitness to plead with the need for an appropriate adult. Better guidance to assist custody officers in identifying mental disorder is required. Lay and professional people undertake the role of appropriate adult, but are inadequately trained. Social workers do not necessarily understand the role and family members sometimes act contrary to the detainee's best interest. A more 'professionalized' and inter-agency approach is required, as in Scotland. The voluntary sector has an important role to perform. There is also scope for extending the use of appropriate adults beyond detainees in police stations to cover all vulnerable witnesses at all stages of the criminal process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • appropriate adult
  • vulnerability
  • police
  • detainees
  • police station
  • Appropriate adult
  • Police station
  • Detainees
  • Vulnerability
  • Police


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