The Appropriate Adult Scheme is designed to support vulnerable people detained in police custody aged 18 or over. ‘Appropriate Adults’ are members of the public who volunteer to ensure people with mental ill-health, learning difficulties and autism are treated fairly in police custody.

The principal intention is to reduce the risk of miscarriages of justice as a result of evidence being obtained from vulnerable suspects which lead to unjust convictions.

The ‘Appropriate Adult’ does not give legal advice. Instead he or she is there to ensure the detained person is treated fairly.  An appropriate adult could be someone passionate about equal rights or supporting vulnerable people.

When will an Appropriate Adult be required?

An Appropriate Adult can be requested to support a vulnerable adult during a voluntary interview and throughout a person’s time in custody, including when the police:

  • Give or seek any information or are required to seek consent to carry out a procedure
  • Advise the person of their legal rights & entitlements
  • Caution the person
  • Conduct interviews or ask the person to sign a statement
  • Carry out ID procedures such as fingerprinting, photographs and identity parades
  • Carry out Class A drug testing or take samples such as DNA swabs
  • Conduct strip searches or intimate (body cavity) searches
  • Require x-ray or ultrasound scans (this will be done at a medical premises)
  • Review whether detention needs to be continued or extended
  • Carry out a ‘disposal’ after deciding whether the person will be charged
  • Carry out actions in relation to Youth Cautions and Youth Conditional Caution

The Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for ensuring there are a team of appropriate adults working across the West Midlands. There are currently 24 appropriate adults supporting vulnerable people across the West Midlands; including at Coventry, Oldbury, Perry Barr and Wolverhampton custody suites. More than 600 vulnerable adults in the West Midlands are supported by the scheme every month.

How does the scheme work?

Volunteers are members of the public over the age of 18 years, who live and/or work in the West Midlands.  Before they are added to the Criminal Justice Service database they are vetted and undertake training.

Appropriate Adults produce a report for each of their visits and submit it to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office.  Each report is reviewed and any concerns are raised with West Midlands Police. The Police and Crime Commissioner follows up any necessary actions with the Criminal Justice Service.

There are not currently any vacancies for custody visitors, but keep checking back here for updates.