The Appropriate Adult: Their Perspective Working in the Criminal Justice System.

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Vulnerable individuals are increasingly coming into custody. One safeguard implemented by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and Codes of Practice is the Appropriate Adult measure. However, little is known about how the Appropriate Adult constructs and understands their role and the implications this may have for the enactment of their role. The current study aimed to explore how Appropriate Adults and others experience and understand their role when working with vulnerable individuals. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 Appropriate Adults and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Overall, two superordinate and six subordinate themes emerged from the data that highlighted the complex and confusing role of the Appropriate Adult. In addition, Appropriate Adults suggested that they may be less likely to perform their duties if faced with excessive conflict from others working in custody. The research raises implications regarding the understanding and utilisation of the Appropriate Adult role and for the treatment and outcome of the vulnerable adult in custody. That is, if the Appropriate Adult remains passive in their role, the vulnerable individual in custody is not being appropriately safeguarded and remains at risk of providing unreliable, self-incriminating information or even a false confession.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Early online date2 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2023

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