The adult’s views and wishes are central to the Act and every effort should be made at each stage of the process to ensure that barriers to participation are minimised. Good practice would be to check at each stage in the process that the adult’s views are being actively considered. Where undue pressure is suspected the adult should be interviewed on their own.

There should be a basic assumption that the adult will be involved in all meetings that are about them. There will be times when this will not be appropriate but, in all cases, reasons should be recorded in the minute of the meetings explaining why the adult was not present.


Adults right’s during an interview

Section 8(2) of the Act provides that the adult is not required to answer any questions, and that the adult must be informed of that fact before the interview commences. The adult can choose to answer any question put to them, but the purpose of this section is to ensure that they are not forced to answer any question that they choose not to answer.

However, seeking the consent of the adult to be interviewed should not be a matter of simply advising that they are not obliged to answer. Good practice would be to ensure that the adult is clear regarding the purpose of the interview and is given reasonable opportunity and support to answer questions whilst respecting their right not to.

A lack of capacity to consent to being interviewed is not an automatic barrier to them participating in an interview. The principal of participating ‘as fully as possible’ should be adhered to. 

Appropriate Adults

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

The role of the Appropriate Adult is to facilitate communication between a person with mental disorder and the police and, as far as is possible, ensure understanding by the individual.

It is recognised that not all individuals who may require Appropriate Adult support will have a formal diagnosis, nor may they be able or willing to share any diagnosis with the police. In circumstances where a diagnosis cannot be confirmed but it is clear that the individual cannot understand procedures or communicate effectively with the police, and that the cause of such difficulty is not solely because of substance use/intoxication, then Appropriate Adult support should be requested.