Using Appropriate Adults Correctly

In the interests of justice, if a vulnerable person is a suspect, witness or victim then it is essential that Appropriate Adults are used correctly and that they understand their role as an Appropriate Adult, otherwise, the information a vulnerable person gives could potentially incriminate themselves of an offence they did not commit or incriminate another person of an offence they did not commit AND / OR allow guilty parties to evade justice.

Training and suitable briefing of Appropriate Adults is desirable to assist in this.

A vulnerable person requires an Appropriate Adult. The appropriate adult may be a parent, carer, school teaching staff, social worker, or relative.

A vulnerable person is a person who due to their mental state or capacity may not understand the significance of what is said, of questions asked, or of their reply; OR any disorder or disability of mind. This includes children, adults and the elderly.

Where there is doubt about a person’s mental state or capacity they should be treated as a vulnerable person and an Appropriate Adult engaged.

A child is automatically deemed a vulnerable person requiring an Appropriate Adult.

A person with Austism or Aspergers etc will automatically be deemed vulnerable requiring an Appropriate Adult.

The Appropriate Adult is there to act on behalf of the vulnerable person, to explain things to them, explain their answers to investigators, etc. They are not required to sit passively and allow the investigators to proceed as they want.

There are exceptions to who can act as an Appropriate Adult e.g. if they were the victim of the crime or they themselves are deemed of unsuitable character or of mind to act for the vulnerable person.

Advice, training and consultancy on this area of legal practice available via Joanne Caffrey Expert.

A longer, downloadable white paper on this subject can be downloaded here.