Victims and witnesses

Policy actions  3 of 4

Appropriate adults

Appropriate Adults provide communication support to vulnerable victims, witnesses, suspects and accused persons, aged 16 and over, during police investigations. 

Police are required under section 42 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 to request support for vulnerable individuals in their custody. This support is delivered by an Appropriate Adult.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that Appropriate Adults are available under The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 (Support for Vulnerable Persons) Regulations 2019.

The statutory Appropriate Adults service under the laws set out above follows a non-statutory service first established in Scotland in 1991.

We launched a consultation on establishing the statutory appropriate adult service in Scotland, in April 2018 and we published an analysis of the consultation responses  in November 2018.

What an Appropriate Adult does

Appropriate adults help to ensure that vulnerable adults are not disadvantaged, in comparison to adults who are not vulnerable, during police procedures.

Police procedures can include interviews, identification procedures and forensic examinations.

The role of an Appropriate Adult is to assist a vulnerable person (who can be a victim, witness or suspect/accused person) to understand what is going on, and to support communication between the vulnerable person and the police.

Guidance on appropriate adult services for local authorities 

We have published guidance for local authorities on their statutory duties in relation to the provision of Appropriate Adult services.

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