A helping hand
Imagine, for whatever reason, coming into contact with the police. Perhaps you’ve been arrested or are required to be to be formally interviewed, give a sample or a witness statement. Pretty scary stuff! Now imagine the same but through the eyes of someone who’s a vulnerable adult, someone with a learning disability, someone with diminished capacity or little understanding of what’s going on, someone with mental health issues, a drug problem, or someone who doesn’t speak much English. Now that’s got to be even scarier!
A little while ago Brandon Trust was approached by Avon and Somerset Constabulary to see if we could get involved with the Appropriate Adult Service, part of the National Appropriate Adult Network, as the police were unable to run the service themselves any longer. We were told that the service needed to be an provided by an independent organisation.
The role of an appropriate adult is voluntary and will include being called out to a police station, at short notice, to act as the appropriate adult for somebody who has been arrested; someone the police deem to be a vulnerable adult. The appropriate adult will be present during all required procedures and is able to communicate with the person arrested, to ensure they understand their rights and what is happening.
We currently have 11 volunteers cleared but we're looking to recruit as many new volunteers as possible; the more recruited, the better chance of finding somebody for the police within a given timescale. We have a range of people with different backgrounds involved, including myself. Anyone can apply as long as they're over 18; you don’t need to know the law as you're not required to give any legal advice. An appropriate adult is there to ensure that the detained person is treated fairly, so it could be someone passionate about equal rights, or supporting people with learning disabilities.
Imagine how crucial and valuable the role of the appropriate adult could be through the eyes of a vulnerable adult. Hopefully things wouldn't be quite so scary!
Appropriate Adult Service Administrator