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Re-assessing the social worker's role as an appropriate adult

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The role of the appropriate adult is a small but significan element of the criminal justice system, designed to offer some degree of protection to particular categories of vulnerable person suspects; namely juveniles and mentally disordered persons in police detention. The role is quite often performed by social workers, though it is not exclusive to them. However, authorities have given little detailed thought as to how the duties of the appropriate adult are to be complied with and it appears that very often social workers are not trained in performing the role. This article suggests that we re-appraise our expectations of those asked to fill the role of the appropriate adult, offering them more detailed guidance on specific issues. It also explores how organized training could help social workers to discharge the role in a manner commensurate with its spirit.
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Keywords: Training social workers; appropriate adult; social workers in the criminal justice system

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Human Rights and Equality Centre, School of Law, University of Ulster

Publication date: 01 February 2002

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