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Appropriate Adults

Whenever a child or young person (aged 10 to 17) is arrested or is to be interviewed as a voluntary attendee, an appropriate adult must be informed as soon as practicable and asked to attend.

Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the young person understands what is happening and why.
  • Ensuring that they understand their rights. The appropriate adult has a role in protecting their rights.
  • Support, advise and assist, particularly while they are being questioned.
  • Observe whether the police are acting properly, fairly and with respect for their rights and to intervene if it is thought that they are not.
  • Facilitate communication between the police and the young person. The appropriate adult plays an important role and must be pro-active in undertaking their responsibilities. The role is not a passive one by simply observing procedures.

However, in exceptional circumstances, a superintendent (or above) may authorised an interview to take place in the absence of the appropriate adult.

Who can be an Appropriate Adult?

The appropriate adult can be:

  • a parent or guardian
  • a person from the relevant local authority or voluntary organisation if in care.
  • a social worker of a local authority
  • an appropriate Youth Offending Team (YOT) worker
  • another responsible adult aged over 18

Youth Support Services (YSS) developed a volunteer Appropriate Adult service for 10-17 year olds being detained in police custody and have a team of volunteers throughout West Mercia delivering this service to young people. The service is commissioned by West Mercia Youth Offending Service.

Get Involved with YSS:

For more information about becoming an appropriate adult visit the National Appropriate Adult Network website: