7. Liaising with Appropriate Adults

If an arrestee is under 18 or seen as a ‘vulnerable adult’ by the cops (PACE Code C), they or the police will usually have called an appropriate adult just after the arrest or from inside the station. The appropriate adult legally needs to be present at any interviews and the arrestee should be released into their care.

If the arrestee is under 18, their appropriate adult will often be their parent or guardian. They may be another over-18, such as a friend, other family member, or employee of the local Youth Offending Team (YOT). The cops usually want the appropriate adult to be a legal guardian or YOT employee, so whilst other people aged over 18 are technically allowed to take this role the police may not allow it.

Some local authorities or local voluntary groups have appropriate adult schemes.

Check if the Back Office / Protest Legal Support Line has contact details for any appropriate adults and if they have any updates on, for example, when they are going to arrive. This can be useful information to relay to the desk staff to pass on to the arrestee.

Some appropriate adults are experienced and understand their role well, whilst others may be confused, unsure and/or upset. Try to create good communication with appropriate adults if you can. As well as offering them food and conversation, you can tell them about your role and the 5 Key Messages, especially No Comment, No Duty Solicitor and No Caution. Let them know the importance of asking custody to call a good solicitor, who will provide advice for free at the police station, and recommend a solicitor from the Netpol Lawyers List for them to use. If the arrestee is 16 or under, let the appropriate adult know that they can refuse to let the young person’s photograph and fingerprints be taken (more information on this here).

Give appropriate adults a bustcard and an Arrestee Information Leaflet, and encourage them to call the Protest Legal Support Line if they have any questions.

Key Messages

  • No Comment
  • You do not need to answer police questions, so don’t.

  • No Personal Details
  • You don't have to give details under ANY stop and search power.

  • No Duty Solicitor
  • Use a recommended solicitor with protest experience.

  • No Caution
  • They admit guilt for an alleged offence that might never get to court.

  • What Power?
  • Ask "What power?" to challenge a police officer to act lawfully.