Appropriate Adults Consultation Event

SOLD supported the Scottish Government to co-host a workshop as part of their consultation on Appropriate Adult services in Scotland. The event was aimed specifically at people with learning disabilities and autism. We wanted to hear about people’s experiences of Appropriate Adult support, and their ideas for making it better in the future.

The event was attended by 26 people and we want to thank everybody for taking the time to come along and share their thoughts with us. To see a summary of the workshop discussions, please use the links below:

Appropriate Adults Consultation Workshop – Summary –  Appropriate Adults Consultation Workshop Summary

Appropriate Adults Consultation Workshop – Easy Read – Appropriate Adults Consultation Workshop – Easy read

The Scottish Government are conducting a consultation in relation to establishing a statutory Appropriate Adult service in Scotland.

To view the full consultation paper, please follow the link below:

Scottish Government Consultation – Establishing a statutory Appropriate Adult service in Scotland (pdf)

The existing role of an Appropriate Adult is primarily to facilitate communication during police procedures between the police and vulnerable suspects, accused, victims, and witnesses (aged 16 or over) who have communication difficulties as a result of a mental disorder.

At present, Appropriate Adult services in Scotland are delivered on a non-statutory basis. As a consequence, the way in which services are delivered varies across the country. In some areas they are provided by local authorities, whilst in others they are provided by Health/Social Care and Justice partnerships, or contracted out to third parties.

Although many people have concerns about the role of an Appropriate Adult, a statutory service should at least ensure vulnerable people who come into contact with the justice system receive the same level of support across Scotland.

Previously, SOLD has made a number of suggestions as to how Appropriate Adult support could be improved:

  • Client confidentiality
  • A dedicated, professional service
  • Focus on communication support
  • Jurisdiction to provide proactive communication support throughout the criminal justice process, including facilitating between person and defence solicitor, police custody, crown office, court and preparation of social work reports
  • The introduction of a Registered Intermediary scheme in Scotland
  • Centrally funded, with national standards and a clearly defined statutory role
  • Fully independent of all other statutory services

We have also suggested ways in which lessons could be learned from the work of Registered Intermediaries in other parts of the UK:

  • The use of props to aid communication should be considered for police interviews, for example the defendant having a red card they can hold up to indicate they do not understand or need help
  • Vulnerable defendants should be referred to speech and language therapy services for a communication assessment prior to a planned interview
  • This assessment should form the basis of a communication plan which should travel with the person right the way through the criminal justice system
  • Appropriate adults should use the time created by interim liberation to meet with the person at least once prior to the police interview. This should be to help establish a rapport, and to develop their own sense of the person’s communication ability and support needs.