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Extending and professionalising the role of the appropriate adult

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The ‘appropriate adult’ has received relatively little attention from academics and even less from policymakers. That said, when the United Kingdom's Labour government was displaced in 2010, it had just completed, in March 2010, a three-year review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), which included proposals for extending, professionalising and further reviewing the appropriate adult scheme. Under the new coalition government, the review of the provision of appropriate adults is continuing. It is, therefore, timely to assess the merits of the existing proposals and consider which further issues should be taken into account by the ongoing review. This article makes this assessment with reference to the existing literature, including the previously unpublished results of a survey of professional appropriate adults and their coordinators. The article argues that a number of appropriate adults support the extension and professionalisation of the role and, in practice, have already extended their role, in a manner akin to Marx's (1988) concept of ‘creep’. However, the main priority for the new government should be to clarify the definition of the role.

Keywords: PACE; appropriate adult; juvenile; mentally vulnerable; police; suspect

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre for Criminology,University of Glamorgan, PontypriddWales

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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