3. Delivery of Appropriate Adult services
3.1 Local authorities are responsible for ensuring the availability of Appropriate Adults across Scotland and must have regard to the guidance in this section when undertaking this function. If a local authority enters into a contract with another person, the local authority should ensure that the other person is under an obligation to have regard to this guidance to the extent that it is relevant.
3.2 Providing the appropriate intimation has been sent, local authorities have a duty to ensure that people are available to provide Appropriate Adult support at any stage during a police investigation for victims, witnesses and those suspected or accused of committing an offence when requested to do so by the police.
3.3 Local authorities also have a duty to ensure that people are available to provide Appropriate Adult support where intimation has been sent in accordance with section 42(2) of the 2016 Act (i.e. for persons in custody) by any other person who has a duty under section 42 to facilitate the provision of Appropriate Adult support (mentioned in paragraph 1.14 above).
Management of Appropriate Adult services
Structure of Appropriate Adult Services
3.4 The 2019 Regulations allow flexibility for local authorities to tailor services to suit local needs. Specifically, regulation 4(2) in the 2019 Regulations allows local authorities to work in partnership with other local authorities / organisations and enter into contracts with third parties to deliver Appropriate Adult services on behalf of the local authority.
3.5 Local authorities should ensure that Appropriate Adult services have a management structure in place to support, supervise and develop the local Appropriate Adult service. The following management structure is suggested as an example of good practice:
Steering / Management Group
The remit of the steering / management group should include responsibility for:
- setting the Appropriate Adult service budget
- policy development, including -
- health and safety
- approval of local inputs for national reports
Appropriate Adult Service Coordinator (or equivalent)
The role of the Service Coordinator should include:
- managing the day-to-day operation of the service
- administering the service
- coordinating the Office Hours and Out of Hours services
- recommending and administering the budget
- recruitment of Appropriate Adults, including PVG applications
- implementing training in accordance with this guidance
- coordinating monitoring and evaluation of the service
- operating a complaints procedure
- chairing Appropriate Adult meetings
- reporting to the Steering/Management Group
- attending local and national meetings to sustain the development of the service
- engaging with local stakeholders to raise awareness of the service and the role of the Appropriate Adult
- producing local inputs for national reports
3.6 The management structure should be responsible for ensuring that Appropriate Adults are given support and advice in relation to the role, including access to specialist support such as counselling.
3.7 Each individual local authority involved in the delivery of the local Appropriate Adult service should be involved in the management structure. For example, if a number of local authorities deliver a service in partnership, all local authorities should be represented on the management structure. Similarly, if a local authority enters into a contract with a third party, the local authority should be represented in the management structure of the Appropriate Adult service.
3.8 Appropriate Adult services should be seen in the context of a framework of services that provide support for vulnerable adults in the areas of criminal justice, health and social care. In this regard, it is recommended that as well as including the local authority, the management structure of Appropriate Adult services is multi-agency and involves, for example, representatives from the police, NHS and other organisations who have a role to play in adult protection.
3.9 It should be the responsibility of the management structure in each area to recruit, develop and maintain a team of Appropriate Adults proportionate to levels of demand. The management structure should ensure that all Appropriate Adults who are recruited meet the criteria set out below and that there is a commitment to equality, inclusivity and diversity in terms of recruitment.
3.10 The criteria are:
- experience (in a professional, voluntary or personal capacity) of working with adults who have a mental illness, personality disorder, learning disability or related condition
- experience of assisting vulnerable adults with communication
- successful completion of nationally recognised training
- be a member of the PVG scheme (enhanced disclosure)
3.11 Individuals who apply to become Appropriate Adults should be made aware that they may have to assist in circumstances which they may find distressing and challenging, and may also have to attend court as a witness.
Fulfilling requests for Appropriate Adults
3.12 The exact process for requesting Appropriate Adults will vary across the country, but local procedures are expected be developed in consultation with all relevant agencies and consistently adhered to by the police and Appropriate Adult services.
3.13 The police should ensure that all information pertinent to the request is passed to the Appropriate Adult service and, upon receipt of the request, the Service Coordinator (or equivalent) should identify the most suitable Appropriate Adult to attend.
3.14 The Service Coordinator (or equivalent) should ensure that any requests from the police which include a requirement relating to the sex of the required Appropriate Adult are fulfilled appropriately wherever possible.
3.15 In order to avoid conflicts of interest between the Appropriate Adult and the person they are supporting a person should not act as an Appropriate Adult for an individual in the following circumstances:
- if they have a professional relationship with the person (e.g. social worker and current client; advocacy worker)
- if they have a personal relationship with the person (e.g. relative, friend,
- if they are acting as an Appropriate Adult for an accused person or suspect they cannot support a victim or witness in the same case, and vice versa
3.16 If there has been a previous relationship the Appropriate Adult should bring this to the attention of Service Coordinator (or equivalent), who should then decide whether or not that Appropriate Adult should attend the request, and this decision should be recorded.
3.17 Appropriate Adults can attend requests for multiple victims or witnesses in the same case.
3.18 It is considered best practice to try to ensure consistency in cases where an Appropriate Adult is required for procedures involving the same individual on different dates. In such circumstances, the same Appropriate Adult should, if possible, attend all requests relating to an individual during the police investigation.
3.19 All Appropriate Adult services should have a complaints procedure which is accessible and available to all individuals and organisations who come into contact with Appropriate Adults.
3.20 If the person who is being supported, the police or any other professionals have concerns about the Appropriate Adult’s conduct this should be reported to the Service Coordinator (or equivalent) as soon as possible. The management structure should ensure that all complaints are investigated and resolved in a timely manner and in accordance with the local complaints procedure.
3.21 Each local authority is responsible for ensuring that its Appropriate Adult service complies with relevant data protection legislation.
3.22 Local authorities should have clear policies governing information processed by Appropriate Adults. This should include polices pertaining to information storage and use of local authority IT systems by Appropriate Adults, as well as information sharing protocols between the Appropriate Adult service and other local authorities, local authority departments, the police and other external bodies and organisations.
Appropriate Adults – Role and Procedures
3.23 The following sections set out what is expected in terms of persons carrying out the role of Appropriate Adult. Local authorities should have regard to these sections when discharging the functions of delivering Appropriate Adult services and training Appropriate Adults.
Role of the Appropriate Adult
3.24 The 2016 Act and the 2019 Regulations define support for vulnerable persons as being to:
- help the person understand what is happening, and
- facilitate effective communication between the person and the police.
3.25 Appropriate Adults are responsible for providing this support. In order to do this effectively, an Appropriate Adult should:
- identify how the person’s communication needs may impact on their understanding of proceedings
- actively raise any concerns about person’s communication needs or welfare with the police or other relevant individuals
- ensure, as far as possible, that the person understands their rights
- remain independent and objective at all times
3.26 When carrying out this role, an Appropriate Adult is expected to:
- have an awareness of police procedures
- be able to explain the role of an Appropriate Adult and convey information about proceedings in a manner appropriate to the needs of person they are supporting
- ensure, as far as possible, that the police and any other relevant individuals are aware of information that assists with the facilitation of communication
- where applicable, ensure, as far as possible, that the person is able to give informed consent to procedures
- be aware of and follow local arrangements and protocols
3.27 Appropriate Adults are not professionally qualified to provide a formal assessment of an individual’s health or communication abilities. If the police believe that such an assessment is required then they should consult with a relevant specialist. If an Appropriate Adult feels that someone requires more support to understand what is happening than they can provide, or feels unable to facilitate effective communication between the person and police, they should inform the police of this so that steps can be taken by the police to secure the right type of assistance.
Attending a request
3.28 Identification badges should be issued to and worn by Appropriate Adults at all times when attending requests.
3.29 Appropriate Adults should attend requests with minimum delay, ideally within 90 minutes of the request being received. If delays impact on provision the management structure should take steps to address the issue.
3.30 Police should be present during all contact between the Appropriate Adult and the person who is being supported.
3.31 On arrival, the Appropriate Adult should be passed all relevant information by the police and be given an opportunity to speak with the person they are there to support. The police should be present during this meeting. During the initial meeting with the person they are supporting the Appropriate Adult should:
- explain their role and ensure, as far as possible, that the person understands the explanation that has been given
- explain that the Appropriate Adult cannot give legal advice or speak about the matter under investigation
- explain that if the person says anything to the Appropriate Adult which is of material relevance to the police investigation, the Appropriate Adult should disclose this
- identify how best to facilitate communication between the person and the police
3.32 Following the initial meeting with the person they are supporting the Appropriate Adult should make the police aware of any information which helps to facilitate communication. If the Appropriate Adult has any concerns about the person’s ability to participate in proceedings this should be passed to the police, but it is the responsibility of the police to decide if proceedings should continue.
Involvement in police procedures
3.33 The police should explain to the person requiring Appropriate Adult support the procedure which is to take place and the Appropriate Adult should ensure, as far as possible, that the person they are supporting understands what is going to happen.
3.34 It is essential for Appropriate Adults to take an active role during proceedings to ensure that any communication issues are addressed. This means that an Appropriate Adult should make the police aware if they believe that the person they are supporting does not understand questions, procedures or statements, and also make suggestions in relation to adjustments or steps to be taken in order to help facilitate communication and reassure the individual.
3.35 The Appropriate Adult should ensure, as far as possible, that information provided by the person they are supporting is fully understood by the police.
3.36 Appropriate Adults should not advise the person they are supporting how to answer questions and should not intervene in procedures for any reason other than to help facilitate communication and ensure, as far as possible, that the right level of support is being provided.
After police procedures
3.37 The police should note a statement from the Appropriate Adult detailing their involvement in procedures and any notes made by the Appropriate Adult should be taken by the police as a production.
3.38 Appropriate Adults may be cited to court as a witness to give evidence about their involvement in police procedures.
3.39 If an Appropriate Adult has any concerns relating to the general wellbeing of the person they are supporting, separate from the police investigation and police procedures, they should make the concerns known to both the police and the Appropriate Adult Service Coordinator (or equivalent).
3.40 Local authorities must have regard to their duties under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (“the 2007 Act”) in relation to any adult protection concerns raised by Appropriate Adults. Every local authority must ensure that persons involved in Appropriate Adult services have an understanding of how the 2007 Act and its code of practice relate to the Appropriate Adult function, and have a clear policy about how concerns raised by Appropriate Adults are dealt with by the local authority.
Interaction with other professionals
3.41 Appropriate Adults are not required to be present during a private consultation between the person they are supporting and the person’s solicitor, or during a fitness for interview consultation with a forensic physician.
3.42 While the main role of the Appropriate Adult is to facilitate communication between the person they are supporting and the police, Appropriate Adults are expected to pass on any information concerning the person’s communication needs to the person’s solicitor. This can be done directly by the Appropriate Adult or directed through the police, and should be captured in the Appropriate Adult’s police statement.
3.43 If an Appropriate Adult has any concerns about the conduct of any professionals they encounter while carrying out their role, these should be raised with the police in the first instance and dealt with at the time. Any issues which relate specifically to the professional’s interaction with the Appropriate Adult should also be reported to the Service Coordinator (or equivalent) for action if necessary.