Appropriate Adult Login

The Role of an Appropriate Adult

Appropriate adults are selected for their experience of working with people who have a mental disorder; it is the communication skills that have developed through this experience that enables appropriate adults to fulfil their role effectively.  Principally the main purpose of the role is to help ensure, as far as possible, understanding by all parties to an interview or police procedure.  

Help ensure that the person understands and continues to understand why they are being spoken to by the Police.

  • Facilitate and support communication where possible between the person and the police.
  • In the case of a suspect or accused person ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that the person is not disadvantaged by their mental disorder, that they fully understand their rights as explained to them and that they continue to understand them throughout the process.
  • Suggest a pause in proceedings, in an appropriate manner, to discuss with the police any concerns (i.e. where the stress of the situation in combination with the person’s mental disorder may be impacting upon their ability to understand and communicate).

It should be noted that in providing support during an interview / procedure an appropriate adult must remain mindful of their independence from the situation and the person the police are dealing with.  The nature of the support should be closely linked to the communication needs of the individual and not venture into ‘emotional’ support.

Conduct not content

During an interview or procedure the appropriate adult should only be concerned with the conduct, not the content during the interview / procedure.  For example if the way a question has been phrased has caused confusion for the person it is fitting for an appropriate adult to intercede and request that the question be re-phrased to aid understanding.  If the enquiry officer is unable to re-phrase adequately it may be necessary for the appropriate adult to undertake this task and check understanding.

However, if the nature of the question is what causes concern, for example a question that is very personal, then it is not suitable for an appropriate adult to make comment or interject.  This is a concern about content rather than conduct.

What isn’t included in the role?

An appropriate adult is:

  • Not there to advise in any way
  • Not there to give answers for or on behalf of the person
  • Not there to build up a relationship with the person
  • Not there to advocate

Who can be an Appropriate Adult?

An appropriate adult WILL BE:-

  • Independent of the person being spoken to and Police Scotland;
  • Contracted, and trained by the Appropriate Adult Tayside Service.
  • Experienced in, and have a sound understanding of, dealing with people who have a mental disorder and be trained according to national and local requirements;
  • Able to communicate effectively.

An Appropriate Adult CANNOT BE:

  • A relative, close friend, carer or former carer of the person;
  • An advocate advising the person during a police interview or procedure;
  • A police officer or employee of the police.
  • A professional from a service provider (i.e. social work)

The presence of a relative, friend, or carer in addition to the appropriate adult may sometimes be helpful in explaining the role of the appropriate adult and reassuring the person. The use, in addition to the appropriate adult, of a communication therapist, sign language interpreter for someone who has a hearing impairment, or ordinary language interpreter if the person is from a minority ethnic community, may also be helpful.

The Role of an Appropriate Adult

Appropriate adults are selected for their experience of working with people who have a mental disorder; it is the communication skills that have developed through this experience that enables appropriate adults to fulfil their role effectively.  Principally the main purpose of the role is to help ensure, as far as possible, understanding by all parties to an interview or police procedure.  

Help ensure that the person understands and continues to understand why they are being spoken to by the Police.

  • Facilitate and support communication where possible between the person and the police.
  • In the case of a suspect or accused person ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that the person is not disadvantaged by their mental disorder, that they fully understand their rights as explained to them and that they continue to understand them throughout the process.
  • Suggest a pause in proceedings, in an appropriate manner, to discuss with the police any concerns (i.e. where the stress of the situation in combination with the person’s mental disorder may be impacting upon their ability to understand and communicate).

It should be noted that in providing support during an interview / procedure an appropriate adult must remain mindful of their independence from the situation and the person the police are dealing with.  The nature of the support should be closely linked to the communication needs of the individual and not venture into ‘emotional’ support.

Conduct not content

During an interview or procedure the appropriate adult should only be concerned with the conduct, not the content during the interview / procedure.  For example if the way a question has been phrased has caused confusion for the person it is fitting for an appropriate adult to intercede and request that the question be re-phrased to aid understanding.  If the enquiry officer is unable to re-phrase adequately it may be necessary for the appropriate adult to undertake this task and check understanding.

However, if the nature of the question is what causes concern, for example a question that is very personal, then it is not suitable for an appropriate adult to make comment or interject.  This is a concern about content rather than conduct.

What isn’t included in the role?

An appropriate adult is:

  • Not there to advise in any way
  • Not there to give answers for or on behalf of the person
  • Not there to build up a relationship with the person
  • Not there to advocate

Who can be an Appropriate Adult?

An appropriate adult WILL BE:-

  • Independent of the person being spoken to and Police Scotland;
  • Contracted, and trained by the Appropriate Adult Tayside Service.
  • Experienced in, and have a sound understanding of, dealing with people who have a mental disorder and be trained according to national and local requirements;
  • Able to communicate effectively.

An Appropriate Adult CANNOT BE:

  • A relative, close friend, carer or former carer of the person;
  • An advocate advising the person during a police interview or procedure;
  • A police officer or employee of the police.
  • A professional from a service provider (i.e. social work)

The presence of a relative, friend, or carer in addition to the appropriate adult may sometimes be helpful in explaining the role of the appropriate adult and reassuring the person. The use, in addition to the appropriate adult, of a communication therapist, sign language interpreter for someone who has a hearing impairment, or ordinary language interpreter if the person is from a minority ethnic community, may also be helpful.