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A volunteer's story

I first became aware of the Appropriate Adult Scheme (AA) at a Neighbourhood Watch meeting when a police inspector from the Patchway Custody Centre was seeking new volunteers.

It coincided with the beginning of Brandon Trust’s involvement and resonated with me as I am concerned there should be access to justice for all, particularly the young and vulnerable.

Training consisted of a visit and tour of the custody centres with an introduction from the police. It provided a good understanding of what's involved.

Brandon also organised a day’s training course with an independent training company, who explained the legal framework behind arrests, detention and questioning under caution. This was invaluable, as was speaking to existing AA volunteers.

So, with my training complete, I had to wait a while for my first call out because of the unpredictability of vulnerable people's needs. However, the moment eventually came and, with my training, I was confident and well prepared.

The police are supportive of AAs and welcome our presence. They accept the duty of the AA to be assertive and promote the welfare of the vulnerable individual. On one of my visits, it was heartening to be told how much the police appreciate our commitment to supporting the vulnerable.

The fact that someone is in custody obviously means that there is a serious issue to address, but our involvement means that the vulnerable person fully understands what's happening, receives legal advice, and is fully supported. In this intimidating situation, it's satisfying to see what a difference AAs can make.

Finally, waiting is a feature of attending custody centres, so taking a good book and a bottle of water is essential advice!

David Woodward

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