U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Reconstructing the Role of the Appropriate Adult in England and Wales

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice Volume: 6 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 219-237
Harriet Pierpoint
Date Published
May 2006
19 pages
This article reviews empirical research that examined the role and coordination of volunteers as appropriate adults for young suspects in England and Wales.
It is demonstrated that, while volunteers wish to include elements of due process, welfare, and crime prevention in their role as an appropriate adult, they have to operate within the constraints of crime control and managerialism. With that said, the role of the appropriate adult is in need of reconstruction. This reconstruction should build on the volunteers’ welfare tendencies and the volunteer should be joined by a mandatory legal adviser to ensure that due process is respected. The role of an appropriate adult is one who accompanies a suspect, who is a juvenile or mentally disabled, at the police station. An appropriate adult may be a parent or guardian, a social worker, or another responsible adult aged 18 years or over who is not employed by the police. They are to advise the person being interviewed by the police, observe whether the interview is conducted properly and fairly, and facilitate communication with the person being interviewed. Even with all these parameters, the definition of the role of an appropriate adult under the Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Code is both ambiguous and contradictory. This article examines the social construction of the ambiguous and contradictory role and briefly considers the background to the use of volunteers as appropriate adults. It explores the volunteer appropriate adults’ interpretation of the role and concludes with recommendations for the appropriate adult. References